Next week sees the return of Corrie! - a play - based on the hit ITV1 soap which is currently celebrating 50 years as a national institution. Many are a bit sniffy about soap operas and may be thinking why transfer it to the stage? But as a lifelong fan of the cobbles, I can think of no better medium as there is more drama, heartache and comedy to cover than you could fit into any Opera.

So, in celebration of the play's return to the North West, what is about Coronation Street that keeps us  watching in our millions - fifty years on? Let's take a look at why I love Corrie.

Strong Females
From Ena Sharples, Annie Walker, Hilda Ogden, Elsie Tanner, Bet Gilroy, Blanche Hunt, Carla Connor and Sally Webster - the one thing these women have in common is their strength of character. Such well written female roles do not appear on TV everyday. Think of the storylines these characters have had - from a lorry crashing into the Rovers, being jilted at the altar, being held at gunpoint in the factory, overcoming cancer, etc. And that's the key point really - these women do not suffer fools gladly, they are survivors and they give talented actresses unforgettable roles due the excellent writing.

Couples/Double-Acts
Corrie has always provided viewers with great double acts. If you think about today - Hayley and Roy, Steve and Becky, Anna and Eddie are just three perfect examples - as they spar, joke, argue and laugh together. This gives the audience priceless moments. I particularly enjoy watching the Croppers and The Windasses as they often remind me of The Ogdens - as deep down there is true love here. Talking of The Ogdens - remember them? I can still remember when Stan passed away and Jean Alexander delivered a terrific performance which makes me teary-eyed just thinking about it now! But the double act extends itsellf to friends also or work colleagues.

Look no further than Rita and Mavis - the brassy nightclub singer and the mouse, Rita (again) and Norris - these two should not get on but they do and that makes their scenes so much more enjoyable, even Deidre Barlow and Eileen Grimshaw could be classed as a double act as these mates are opposites. Graeme and Tina - they said it wouldn't last. I rest my case! Graeme deserves a show of his own thanks to the brilliantly quirky Craig Gazey.

The Scripts
I'm really referring to the humour here but the clever thing about this show is the writers' ability to make you laugh one minute and cry the next. When Blanche Hunt died, I was teary eyed and smiling due to the classic one liners. Corrie! the play begins with Blanche Hunt trying to get to heaven, so what better way to celebrate the show's funniest lines - by sharing them with you.

Norris: "Speed bumps? Oh no, they are so ugly and unattractive."
Blanche: "So are you, but at least they have some use."

Blanche to Deirdre and Ken: "Good looks are a curse Deirdre. You and Kenneth should count yourselves lucky."

On Roy: "He looks like he should be crayoning summit."

Ashley to Graeme: "Have you used knives?"
Graeme to Ashley: "Oh yeah, lots!"

I could go on as there are so many more quoteable lines, tune in tonight if you want to see the proof.

Corrie Villains
The best thing about many of the soap's villains is that they remain on the Street. Like JR in Dallas, there is no point continually driving them out of town. Keep 'em so they wind up other residents like a manic Big Brother contestant. Two of the best are still in the show. But let's have a look at the most memorable ones. David Platt - vile, rude, funny and devious. The writers have kept him in the show and it has meant that Jack P. Shepherd almost smiles and sneers at the camera as he pushes his put-upon mother down the stairs. Tracey Barlow - remember when she went upstairs to do her homework and never came back down for a few years? When she did come down - she became a terrific villainess - killing Charlie Slater and is now banged up to rights. Tony Gordon - killed Liam and we never forgot it! Richard Hillman - serial killer in Salford! Alan Bradley - killed by a tram. Pesky modes of transport these, as there is about to be another bloodbath via the Met!

Non-traditional families
Eileen takes Sean in, Emily adopts waifs and strays, Gail seems to have an open house, and Claire looks ater everyone's kids. I love this about the street, as it leads to unlikely friendships - eg Becky and Claire - on paper sounds mad. But on screen it just works - magic!

Theme Tune
Some might find it wistful and old-fashioned. For me - yes - it's a reminder of my childhood but it's also a signal for me that I am about to watch thirty minutes of pure bliss that runs a gamut of emotions. Now put the kettle on as I am dying for a brew, then to book for this superb stage production! 

Enough from me, what are your best moments?



Corrie! is narrated by former Cobbles star Sherrie Hewson (in Manchester) and runs at the Palace Theatre from 4 - 9 April