Gentleman Jack writer Sally Wainwright reveals why she introduced the Battersbys to Coronation Street

Coronation Street The Battersby family in 1997
(Image credit: Kevin Holt/Daily Mail/REX/Shutte)

Sally says she thought the soap was getting 'too sanitised'

Gentleman Jack writer Sally Wainwright has revealed that she introduced the dreaded Battersby family to Coronation Street to keep the soap true to its working class roots.

The Bafta award-winning writer was working on Corrie back in the 1990s when she invented the Battersbys – Les (Bruce Jones), Janice (Vicky Entwistle), Toyah (Georgia Taylor) and Leanne (Jane Danson) – who first arrived on the cobbles in 1997.

Speaking to The Guardian about why she wanted to introduce the family from hell, Sally said: “I felt the Street was getting too sanitised. It was the time of yuppies, so they put some yuppies in. And then they built the other side of the street and it just looked like Switzerland, all these white gables.”

Continuing on the theme of keeping the show working class in the interview, Sally also recalls her horror when Raquel Wolstenhulme (played by Sarah Lancashire, who Sally later worked with on Happy Valley and Last Tango in Halifax), went jogging.

“There was a scene where Raquel went jogging. As if Raquel would go jogging! I thought it was all getting a bit middle-class.”

Sarah Lancashire as Raquel in Coronation Street

Sally wasn't buying that loveable barmaid Raquel (Sarah Lancashire) would go jogging in Coronation Street (pic: ITV/REX/Shutterstock)

She also remembered Sarah Lancashire being “really sweet” and showing her where the loos were!

Sally, who left Coronation Street in 1999, has of course gone onto enjoy enormous TV success with the likes of At Home With The Braithwaites, Last Tango in Halifax and Happy Valley.

Suranne Jones as Anne Lister in Gentleman Jack

Suranne Jones, who also starred in Sally's series Scott & Bailey, plays Anne Lister in BBC1's Gentleman Jack, which starts this Sunday

Now, Sally, who also wrote for Emmerdale, has penned and directed BBC1’s Gentleman Jack, which will see ex-Corrie favourite Suranne Jones star as modern regency heroine Anne Lister.

Main picture of the Battersbys in Corrie: Kevin Holt/Daily Mail/REX/Shuttestock.

David Hollingsworth

David is the What To Watch Editor and has over 20 years of experience in television journalism. He is currently writing about the latest television and film news for What To Watch.

Before working for What To Watch, David spent many years working for TV Times magazine, interviewing some of television's most famous stars including Hollywood actor Kiefer Sutherland, singer Lionel Richie and wildlife legend Sir David Attenborough. 

David started out as a writer for TV Times before becoming the title's deputy features editor and then features editor. During his time on TV Times, David also helped run the annual TV Times Awards. David is a huge Death in Paradise fan, although he's still failed to solve a case before the show's detective! He also loves James Bond and controversially thinks that Timothy Dalton was an excellent 007.

Other than watching and writing about telly, David loves playing cricket, going to the cinema, trying to improve his tennis and chasing about after his kids!