Author Topic: Blackpool Famous Residents (2)  (Read 4104 times)

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Sixties_Kid

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Blackpool Famous Residents (2)
« on: September 18, 2012, 04:47:01 PM »
On a miserable morning in late 1960, a young Granada TV contract scriptwriter was in a fraught meeting with producer Harry Elton and casting director Margaret Morris. Tony Warren had created and scripted a new drama series for Granada TV, and with transmission date fast approaching there was one character still to be cast.  All had agreed the actress hired for the pilot was “not right” and Warren had rejected every actress they had subsequently auditioned. Morris had suggested cutting the character all together, as there were no relatives/dependants to take into consideration. Warren exploded, "Ena Sharples IS Coronation Street".

Reluctantly, Tony offered up a name. “Violet Carson. She lives in Blackpool. She’ll demand her train fare down” Nodding towards Elton, he said “You’ll hate her, she’s a nightmare” Harry asked why Tony hadn’t mentioned her before, “We worked on Children’s Hour when I was twelve, she tried to get me sacked and threatened to smack my bottom”. Carson later remembered she had actually smacked the young Warren’s bottom.

Violet Carson arrived at Granada TV studios for a meeting with Margaret Morris, not an audition, as she said she “had not auditioned since 1937, and she had no intention of starting now”. She was shown to a dressing room so she could prepare for a screen test. On meeting Tony Warren, a look of dismay appeared on her face. “I know you”, she said, “You’re Tony Simpson”. (Simpson being Warren’s real name) “Tell me you’re not in this as well?” “Actually I wrote it”, replied Warren. “Aye well, not bad for a first attempt” she retorted. “Would you like me to go over the character with you?” he asked.  “She’s a back street bitch isn’t she? I’ve known plenty of them in my time”. With that, Carson headed off to the studio.

Up in the gallery, Warren, Elton and Morris waited expectantly. Vi Carson delivered her screen test, and as instructed by the director, played against the lines, to make the character “less harsh”. An air of disappointment settled in the gallery as Tony said, “Bloody hell! She’s mellowed”.

Carson, rather irritably, asked to do it again. “And this time I will do it as I think it should be done”. She gave the screen test of her life, and as smiles broke out in the studio and the gallery, the legend that was Ena Sharples was born!

Violet Helen Carson OBE was born in Ancoats, Manchester on 1st September 1898. She was the oldest of two daughters born to a flour miller and his amateur singer wife. At the age of three, Violet began taking piano lessons whilst being educated in a Church of England School.  As a child, she  performed with her sister Nellie as a singing act called the Carson Sisters.

On leaving school, Violet became a pianist at the Market Street Cinema in Manchester, accompanying the silent films of the era.  As the “talkies” became established, she turned her hand towards adverts, and sang and played on the radio.

Carson married George Peploe at Manchester Cathedral on her 28th birthday in 1926. Her husband died three years later at the age of 31. After this, she never re-married.

In 1935 Carson joined BBC Radio in Manchester. Before her transfer to television she was  a regular member of Children's Hour on the BBC Home Service and was the star of Nursery Sing Song from Manchester, in which she frequently sang with producer Trevor Hill, many years her junior. Contrary to popular opinion she was never known as Auntie Vi, that epithet belonging only to Violet Fraser back in the 1920s. "I was never anyone's aunt" exclaimed Carson when Hill produced a BBC Radio programme about her in 1981. She was at one time the pianist for the Wilfred Pickles radio show Have A Go from the 1940s and she was also an acclaimed serious actress.

At a time in her life, when most people would be “winding down” , Carson was to create one of the  most iconic characters in tv history, Ena Sharples, the God fearing, moralising, vicious tongued harridan of Coronation Street, sparring frequently with Elsie Tanner, as played by the larger than life Pat Phoeinx. Like their characters, the two actresses were as different as chalk and cheese, and never destined to become the best of friends, however, they did have a grudging respect for each other, both being hard working and never failing to deliver when the time came.

A Blackpool resident since the late 20’s, early 30’s, Vi was invited to switch on the Illuminations in 1961, appearing as her alter ego, and switching them on by pulling a beer pump from a replica Rover’s Return bar.

In 1965 she was awarded the OBE and in 1968 she attended the 10th Annual Australian TV Week Logie Awards (named after John Logie Baird) at the Southern Cross Hotel in Melbourne, where she presented awards to some of the main winners that year. Whilst touring Australia, Vi appeared before huge crowds wherever she went.

Vi Carson was as much a formidable lady as the character she created, and certainly didn’t suffer fools gladly. She subsequently became great friends with Tony Warren and credited him with giving her the greatest opportunity and best years of her professional life.

With her clear cut soprano singing voice, she was a a regular and popular contributor to Yorkshire TV’s Stars on Sunday, reading out dedications and singing popular hymns as requested by viewers who wrote in to the programme.

During the 1970s, Carson suffered a series of strokes and endured other health problems, and only played Ena sporadically throughout the decade. She took time off from Coronation Street in 1973 after suffering a nervous breakdown.

In 1981 she became ill with pernicious anaemia and was forced to leave the programme. All storylines involving the return of Ena Sharples had to be scrapped because of her illness, although Ena Sharples was still considered an active character. Vi Carson retired to her bungalow in Cleveleys, with her sister Nellie and refused to make any public appearances after her retirement. The year after she retired, she  underwent surgery for an abscess from which she never fully recovered.

Violet Carson died, aged 85, in her sleep, on Boxing Day 1983, at her home. She was cremated at Carleton Crematorium, Blackpool, and is commemorated at Bispham Parish Church in Blackpool.
« Last Edit: September 18, 2012, 10:23:30 PM by Sixties_Kid »
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BelleVueShrew

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Re: Blackpool Famous Residents (2)
« Reply #1 on: September 20, 2012, 01:03:59 AM »
Another fantastic read Sixties_Kid.

I used to love 'Corrie' until it started trying to compete with Eastenders. I probably stopped watching it 20 plus years ago now.

The days of Ena were its halcyon period and she certainly struck the fear of God into you even though she was coming from a little box in the corner of the room!!

You certainly never wanted to meet her in real life! But that is giving her the utmost respect for how well she played Ena Sharples, with the most famous hairnet in history!!  :thumbup1:


Proud Salopian (With a part of the heart in Blackpool)

Sixties_Kid

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Re: Blackpool Famous Residents (2)
« Reply #2 on: September 20, 2012, 12:30:56 PM »
I think my interest in Corrie started to wane when Jean Alexander left the programme. She created yet another of the "Corrie Greats" in Hilda Ogden. Her last scene, in the funeral episode, as she breaks down when opening that brown paper parcel with Stans belongings in it was heart rending!

I think the the success of Corrie, in it's early days, was down to the strong female characters that Warren created, having come through the war, two world wars for some of them, and always ready to deal with whatever adversities life threw at them.

Ena Sharples, Annie Walker, Elsie Tanner, Hilda Ogden,  names that still live on today, and are testament to the talented actresses who created them!
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BelleVueShrew

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Re: Blackpool Famous Residents (2)
« Reply #3 on: September 20, 2012, 03:46:03 PM »
I remember that last scene well, in particular, she opened Stan's glasses case and sobbed her heart out. We could all relate to it.

I would love to watch Corrie all the way from the beginning up to around the mid 80's.

But I have no interest now whatsoever in it.


Proud Salopian (With a part of the heart in Blackpool)

Sixties_Kid

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Re: Blackpool Famous Residents (2)
« Reply #4 on: September 20, 2012, 07:54:05 PM »
That would be amazing! Think I would end up with square eyes lol!

I tuned into an eppisode last week, just to watch Sue Johnston, as she recently joined. Won't be bothering with it again for a while!  :thumbdown:
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