Live drama marks Coronation Street's 50th anniversary

Image caption,
Coronation Street's Molly Dobbs was among those trapped in the rubble

The cast of Coronation Street have pulled off an hour-long live episode to mark the ITV soap's 50th anniversary.

The ambitious show involved 65 actors and a 300-strong crew portraying the aftermath of a devastating gas explosion and tram crash.

At its climax, two characters appeared to die from their injuries.

The show is the world's longest-running TV soap, with its 7,500 episodes featuring 39 births, 114 deaths and 88 weddings.

There have been months of speculation about the identities of those who would be killed off in the catastrophe.

On Wednesday, Ashley Peacock - a Street regular for 14 years, played by Steven Arnold - was seen being crushed to death after the Joinery bar collapsed.

On Thursday, viewers saw Peter Barlow and Molly Dobbs seem to succumb to their injuries.

The storyline has been billed as "Four funerals and a wedding".

The show's golden jubilee episode was its first live edition for a decade.

Image caption,
The show's last live broadcast was screened in 2000 to mark the soap's 40th anniversary

Coronation Street, created by scriptwriter Tony Warren, was originally commissioned for 13 episodes and first went out on 9 December 1960.

The spectacular tram crash storyline was a sign that TV shows now have to strive harder to make an impact, Coronation Street producer Phil Collinson admitted.

"Television has changed," he said. "Programmes like Coronation Street have to stand up against massive pieces of event television like Strictly Come Dancing and The X Factor.

"So we had to do something extraordinary. When drama pushes the boat out, it has to push it out really far.

"I think the days are over when television drama can sit back and leave it to your imagination. We have to compete against those great big juggernauts."

The show's last live broadcast was screened in 2000 to mark the soap's 40th anniversary.

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