Street party for Rosenthal

By Jonathan Kalmus, January 12, 2012
The legendary Ogdens, Hilda (Jean Alexander) and Stan (Bernard Youens) in a Rosenthal-scripted episode

The legendary Ogdens, Hilda (Jean Alexander) and Stan (Bernard Youens) in a Rosenthal-scripted episode

Celebrities are going down the Rovers Return to pay tribute to Jack Rosenthal, whose scriptwriting credits included 129 episodes of Coronation Street.

On Sunday, Mr Rosenthal's widow, Maureen Lipman, will join current cast and crew of Britain's longest-running soap at the Lass O'Gowrie, at the back of Manchester's city centre. The bar of the entertainment pub will double as the Rovers set, where former Corrie actors will recreate three classic 1960s episodes which Rosenthal penned for Granada Television.

He went on to win three Baftas for plays including Barmitzvah Boy, as well as writing ITV's London's Burning and co-writing the film, Yentl, with Barbra Streisand.

Born in Cheetham Hill to a working-class Jewish family, Manchester and Coronation Street was where Jack's heart remained, according to Ms Lipman, who quipped that she would take a cab to the Lass after learning of its dingy location.

"The dressing rooms will be ghastly," she said. "But there will be spirit there, which is what counts. I think it's hard for me to say if this is a fitting tribute until I see what they do with it. But what's more meaningful is that the pub's organisers realise how brilliant Jack was, which is music to my ears."

The couple met in Manchester in 1959 when she was a young actress and he was earning £8 a week from Granada and lodging with co-scriptwriter Geoffrey Lancashire, his wife and four children.

"He was a fairly typical Manchester United supporter, grim as hell," Ms Lipman recalled fondly. "His team could never do well enough. He used to watch matches on Teletext because he had a premonition they would lose if he watched on television.

"I think Jack would credit his ability to write dialogue down to his family dynamic - working class, Jewish, very poor and very northern. He would credit Coronation Street with giving him the platform for what he did."

Festival organiser David MacCreedy - who once played a detective in the soap - said fans could catch the last of the shows on Sunday afternoon. "It's been great. The performances have had a resonance not only with Corrie fans but people who love Jack's work."

Last updated: 3:49pm, January 12 2012