It is with great sadness that Coronation Street confirms legendary creator and acclaimed writer Tony Warren MBE, passed away peacefully last night surrounded by his loving friend, aged 79, after a short illness.
The programme’s production team and Coronation Street actors, past and present, were heartbroken on hearing the news this morning.
All who worked with Tony throughout his illustrious career had the utmost respect for his achievements and he remained a Consultant on the Manchester based soap until the day he died. He was considered one of the television industry’s greatest minds as he devised the idea for the Weatherfield soap at the age of 24 at the very beginning of his acclaimed writing career.
John Whiston, Creative Director, Soaps for ITV Studios paid a moving tribute to Tony:
“Amid the many and much deserved tributes to Tony Warren, surely there can be no greater tribute than that the show he created 56 years ago is still the number one show on British TV. Tony infused Coronation Street with his own spirit, one that was at the same time dramatic and credible, exciting and grounded, funny and humane. It is Tony's spirit that has kept the show fresh and relevant all these years and will do for years to come. All who are lucky enough to work on the show owe Tony a huge amount of gratitude. As do all the millions who tune into Coronation Street week after week.”
Born Anthony McVay Simpson in Eccles, Manchester, Tony was a regular visitor to the soap’s set in Trafford, Greater Manchester, and loved nothing more than to catch up with the cast and crew during breaks in filming whilst offering the actors insightful feedback about their characters and storylines.
Coronation Street’s Executive Producer Kieran Roberts has spent nearly 15 years working alongside Tony:
“Tony Warren the writer was a pioneer, a revolutionary, a true genius, a giant of British television. He will rightly be remembered around the world as the creator of Coronation Street but those of us lucky enough to have worked on his wonderful show and to have known him will also remember the man: the razor-sharp intelligence; the brilliant, often mischievous sense of humour, the courage and conviction, the passion for people, the immense generosity of spirit and capacity for love. We all deeply mourn his passing but celebrate his work and his life, both of which have made the world an infinitely richer place.”
Credited with creating the most successful programme ever in British television history, Tony adopted the stage surname of Warren during his early acting career as a successful child star. He trained at the Elliott Clarke Theatre School in Liverpool and became a regular on Children’s Hour on BBC Radio. He also acted in many radio plays and fortuitously performed with the actors who were later to become household names in Coronation Street, most notably Violet Carson and Doris Speed.
In 1960 Tony’s initial scripts for Coronation Street were commissioned by Granada Television for the ITV network and he went on to write the first 13 episodes of the programme which remains the nation’s favourite soap today.
William Roache MBE, who has worked with Tony since Coronation Street’s first episode aired on 9 December 1960, said:
“When I first met Tony I couldn’t quite believe he’d created and written Coronation Street because he was no more than a young boy. It was his boyish energy even recently when I saw him again that I’ll remember. I loved Tony’s energy. He was the father of Coronation Street and he gave us all so much. He will be so desperately missed because of who he was and what he did. We owe him so much.”
Almost overnight Coronation Street became an instant success with Tony continuing to write scripts for Granada Television on a full time basis until 1968. He then began to write other television dramas and went on to craft several critically acclaimed novels in the 1990s, although his association with Coronation Street continued and he wrote episodes sporadically until the late 1970s.
ITV’s Director of Television Kevin Lygo said:
“Tony Warren was a charming man who gave ITV and the nation the greatest gift imaginable when he created Coronation Street, an idea that continues to entertain millions on a regular basis. We all owe him an enormous debt of thanks.”
Tony received numerous accolades throughout his career including the RTS Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010 on the anniversary of Coronation Street’s 50th anniversary. He was also a recipient of the Special Achievement Award at the British Soap Awards and received an honorary degree from Manchester Metropolitan University in recognition of creating groundbreaking television and creative writing.
Coronation Street actress Helen Worth who has worked with Tony for 42 years said:
"Tony was a genius of our time, the dearest funniest and most inspirational man of his generation. He brought real life into our homes for us all to relate to and enjoy. He will of course live on forever through Coronation Street."