Ellie Iorizzo, PA Senior Entertainment Reporter
Wed, 23 November 2022 at 9:19 pm
Coronation Street’s Sally Ann Matthews and Emmerdale’s Mark Charnock were among the soap stars invited to meet the Speaker of the House of Commons to celebrate continuing drama in the North.
Sir Lindsay Hoyle invited cast members, directors, writers and crew from the two TV shows to Speaker’s House on Wednesday.
The MP for Chorley, 65, said he was “beyond proud” that two of Britain’s most well-known institutions “were exports from the North”.
He said: “Coronation Street and Emmerdale are two of the best-loved, hard-hitting dramas in the UK, if not the world, and their storytelling really touches on important social issues that affect us all.
“The fact that both programmes have been mentioned more than 320 times during debates across Parliament just goes to show how important they are to the fabric of our society and the economic contribution they bring to the North.”
During the reception at Speaker’s House, Sir Lindsay met 37 actors from the two soaps, including Coronation Street’s William Roache, who has portrayed Ken Barlow in the ITV soap for more than 60 years, and Matthews who plays Jenny Connor in the ITV drama.
Barbara Knox, who has played her character Rita Tanner on the Cobbles for more than 50 years, was also at the reception alongside Sally Dynevor, who has played ambitious Sally Webster in the soap since 1986.
Emmerdale’s Charnock, who has played chef Marlon Dingle on the soap for 25 years, was also present at the celebrations alongside Chris Chittell, who made his first appearance in the show in 1986 as Eric Pollard.
During the celebrations, Coronation Street and Emmerdale stalwarts Roache and Chittell presented Sir Lindsay with an engraved cobble from the Street and a uniquely packaged pair of Wellingtons from the Yorkshire village.
John Whiston, managing director for continuing drama and head of ITV in the north, said it was “an honour” to be invited to Speaker’s House “to celebrate a little bit of TV history”.
He added: “It is hugely important to everybody on Emmerdale and Coronation Street that we tell stories that don’t just entertain, but sometimes also inform and make change.
“Being recognised by Mr Speaker for that, and for over 100 years of TV from the North, has made this a very special evening for everybody concerned.”
The event comes after Emmerdale was crowned winner of best soap at the British Soap Awards 2022 in its 50th year while Coronation Street won the Bafta for Best Soap and Continuing Drama and will celebrate its 63rd anniversary on December 9.