Cheeky BBC bosses are out to steal Coronation Street's 50th birthday thunder from ITV - with a 90-minute drama celebrating the milestone.
Florizel Street, the soap's original working title, will chart the ups and downs of the show's early years. And the Beeb will even "bring back to life" several of the show's late stars.
Producers are now hunting actors to play legends like Pat Phoenix (tart-with-a-heart Elsie Tanner), Violet Carson (hair-net-harridan Ena Sharples) and Doris Speed (airs-and-graces Rovers' landlady Annie Walker).
Bill Roache, 78, who as Ken Barlow is still in his role from the first episode on December 9 1960, will also be portrayed - possibly with grumpy old uncle Albert Tatlock (Jack Howarth).
An insider admitted: "It's a bit mischievous - but ITV don't seem to have much of a clue what to do to mark this event.
"So we're getting in first because the Street is part of our national culture and should be given a proper salute. Our show is going to be a must for all Corrie fans."
Florizel Street, which got its name change because ITV bosses thought it sounded too much like a disinfectant, is the brainchild of former Street archivist Daran Little, 44.
Now working on the Beeb's rival soap EastEnders, he is a friend of BBC North boss Peter Salmon - coincidentally married to Sarah Lancashire who used to play barmaid Raquel Watts - and wrote 95 episodes of Corrie before moving to the US.
Daran's drama will reveal how the idea for the nation's longestrunning serial came from Canadian-born producer Harry Elton, who recruited writer Tony Warren to depict the life of working people in one Northern street.
Elton, a father of four, died aged 74 in his native country six years ago. And he'd have no doubt been amazed that the programme he helped to bring to the screen would outlive him after attracting 27 million regular viewers in its heyday.
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Especially as, after that first episode, then Daily Mirror TV critic Ken Irwin said the soap was "doomed from the outset."
Ken even added: "There is little reality in this new serial which, apparently, we have to suffer twice a week." Sorry, Corrie.
A sex symbol as divorcee Elsie Tanner, her own love life rivalled her character's. After two marriages - one to co-star Alan Browning - she left the show in 1984. Pat wed Anthony Booth to become stepmum to Cherie Blair and mother-in-law to Tony on September 10 1986. Died of lung cancer eight days later aged 62.
Playing battleaxe Ena Sharples from 1960 took its toll on Vi's health and, after a breakdown in 1973, serious anaemia forced her to be written out as the mission hall caretaker in 1980. A noted soprano and pianist who graced Songs of Praise, Vi said: "I was destroyed the day Ena first appeared." Died at 85 in 1983.
She was a national treasure as snooty Rovers Return landlady Annie Walker, a role she played for 1,746 episodes from 1960 until 1983. Doris got more fan mail than any other Corrie actor and an OBE in 1977. She fainted when the Mirror revealed in 1983 she was 83 not 62 as she claimed. Died at 95 in 1994.
Only remaining member of the original December 9 1960 cast as Ken Barlow and longest-serving actor in any British soap. At 78, his two marriages produced five children. But daughter Edwina, 18 months, succumbed to pneu-monia in 1984 and last year second spouse Sara died suddenly at 58. Awarded the OBE in 2001.
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