How long has 'Coronation Street' been running?

How long has Coronation Street been running? The Rovers Return
The Rovers Return has been at the heart of 'Coronation Street' since the start. (Image credit: PA)

How long has 'Coronation Street' been running? 

Coronation Street started on ITV on Friday 9th December 1960. Set on a humble cobbled street in the fictional Manchester suburb of Weatherfield, based on the early life of creator Tony Warren, tis tale of everyday life, gritty realism and warm humour that revolutionised TV drama and created the template for soap as we know it. 

The first episode was broadcast live from Granada Studios in Manchester and beamed to seven of the nine regions ITV was divided into at the time. By March 1961 it was showing across the network and in August 1961 it topped the ratings for the first time and has remained one of the most popular shows on TV ever since. 

It was shown twice weekly until October 1989 when a third episode was added. A fourth regular edition was introduced in November 1996, followed by a fifth in August 2003, and in September 2017 the show went to six times a week, airing double editions on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

In 2020 Coronation Street reached the dual milestone of 10,000 episodes and its 60th anniversary. Corrie is officially the world’s longest-running drama serial and has given us some of TV’s most unforgettable characters. But which stars have been in it the longest?

Who are the longest-serving actors in 'Coronation Street'?

Here are the top 10 longest-serving Coronation Street cast members. 

We’ve chosen actors who are regulars in the current cast going from their earliest appearance. Some actors have had breaks from the show over the years, but if they are permanent fixtures on-screen now then we’re still counting them as long-servers even if it’s not continuous service!

William Roache

Bill Roache as Ken Barlow in Coronation Street

Bill is the longest-serving actor on 'Coronation Street'. (Image credit: ITV)

Plays: Ken Barlow

First appearance: 9th December 1960

Bill has been there since day one, playing dependable Ken who has matured from snooty student to respected patriarch across six eventful decades. He’s the heart and soul of the street and was part of the soap’s famous love triangle between Ken, Deirdre and Mike. Bill, 89, is in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s longest-serving male TV star in a continuous role.

Barbara Knox 

Barbara Knox as Rita Tanner Coronation Street

Barbara Knox has played Rita Tanner since 1964. (Image credit: ITV)

Plays: Rita Tanner

First appearance: 2nd December 1964

Red-head Rita was a glamorous nightclub singer/belly dancer when we first met her, though it was seven years before Knox was put on a permanent contract. Much-loved as the queen of the Kabin newsagent, the sweetie-selling stalwart has endured her fair share of tragedy having been widowed three times and almost mown down by a speeding Blackpool tram by abusive ex Alan Bradley. 

Helen Worth

Helen Worth as Gail Platt Coronation Street

Helen Worth arrived on the cobbles as a teenager.  (Image credit: ITV)

Plays: Gail Rodwell

First appearance: 29th July 1974

Giggly Gail grew up on screen from a giggly teenager to a much-married drama magnet and mum to Nick Tilsley, Sarah Barlow and David Platt, aka the street’s most dysfunctional family. Eternally unlucky in love, gullible Gail has been married six times (twice to the same man), four of her hubbies are dead and one was a serial killer: remember Richard ‘Norman Bates with a briefcase’ Hillman? 

Sue Nicholls

Sue Nicholls as Audrey in Coronation Street

 Sue Nicholls has played Gail's mum since 1979. (Image credit: ITV)

Plays: Audrey Roberts

First appearance: 16th April 1979

Gail’s flighty mum first appeared at her daughter’s 21st birthday and became a full-time cast member a few years later, eventually settling down with councillor Alf Roberts and going from mistrusted maneater to a respected member of the community. Aud’s many years as a hairdresser meant she always got the gossip from her clients in exchange for a perm and a brew. 

Michael Le Vell

Michael Le Vell as Kevin Webster Coronation Street

Michael Le Vell has played Kevin for almost four decades.  (Image credit: ITV)

Plays: Kevin Webster

First appearance: 19th October 1983

Mechanic Kev was a lodger of the legendary Hilda Ogden and is best known for his roller coaster on/off romance with first wife Sally, which involved having two daughters, two weddings and numerous affairs between them. Kev’s most recent storyline has seen him support grieving partner Abi Franklin through her son Seb’s murder. 

Sue Devaney

Sue Devaney as Debbie Webster Coronation Street

Sue Devaney has recently returned to Weatherfield as Debbie Webster.  (Image credit: ITV)

Plays: Debbie Webster

First appearance: 11th June 1984

Kevin’s younger sister lived on the street with their dad Bill, but gobby teen Deb was in Weatherfield for less than a year and after a short comeback in 2019 she became a regular again in 2020. It may be a long gap, but Sue’s current permanent cast status gives her a whopping 37 year history with her no-nonsense alter ego. Seeing her boss everyone about at the Bistro, it’s like she never went away!

Sally Ann Matthews

Sally Ann Matthews as Jenny Connor Coronation Street

 Sally Ann Matthews first arrived in Weatherfield in 1986.  (Image credit: ITV)

Plays: Jenny Connor

First appearance: 6th January 1986

Troubled teenager Jenny Bradley was fostered by Rita, who later fell for her dastardly dad Alan (not her finest hour). After evil Alan’s death Jen drifted and fell out with Rita and it was 22 years before they reconnected. Now Jenny is at the heart of the street as landlady of the iconic Rovers Return pub, which she runs single-handed following the collapse of her marriage to Johnny Connor.

Sally Dynevor

Sally Dynevor as Sally Metcalfe in Coronation Street

Sally Dynevor has had some huge storylines since arriving in 'Coronation Street' in 1986. (Image credit: ITV)

Plays: Sally Metcalfe

First appearance: 27th January 1986

Snooty Sal has forgotten her working-class roots as Sally Seddon, a surly girl from the wrong side of the tracks introduced as grease monkey Kevin Webster’s girlfriend. Married to lovable layabout Tim Metcalfe, Sally has climbed the social ladder to become one of Weatherfield’s most sophisticated residents – in her eyes, anyway! During her character’s breast cancer storyline in 2009, actress Sally Dynevor was also diagnosed with the illness for real and took a six-month break from the show for treatment. 

Simon Gregson

Simon Gregson as Steve McDonald Coronation Street

Simon Gregson has become a fan favourite as Steve McDonald. (Image credit: ITV)

Plays: Steve McDonald

First appearance: 6th December 1989

Steve moved to the street over 30 years ago with twin brother Andy and warring parents Liz and Jim, causing chaos with his teenage tearaway antics and earning a reputation as a ladies’ man that set him on the path to becoming the street’s most married character – can you believe he’s tied the knot seven times to five women! These days the comedic cab firm boss is married (for a second time) to toxic Tracy Barlow. 

David Neilson

David Neilson as Roy Cropper Coronation Street

David Neilson plays beloved 'Coronation Street' character, Roy Cropper.  (Image credit: ITV)

Plays: Roy Cropper

First appearance: 19th July 1995

Oddball Roy first featured as Deirdre’s creepy neighbour when she moved into a flat away from the cobbles, but the quirky character was such a hit producers made him more likeable and he was soon running café Roy’s Rolls, dishing out bacon barms and words of wisdom to the locals. Fans loved fusspot Roy’s popular partnership with late wife Hayley, and he’s now part of another delightful double act with his niece Nina Lucas. 

Coronation Street airs on Mondays and Wednesdays 7.30pm and 8.30pm with a hour-long episode at 7.30 on Fridays on ITV - see our TV Guide for full listings. You can also catch up on episodes on ITV Hub now.