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  1. #1
    Senior Member Country: Scotland julian_craster's Avatar
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    Violet Carson (from DN

    Silent Film Pianist and 'Ena Sharples' of tv's CORONATION STREET



    Violet Helen Carson (1898-1983), actress, was born on 1 September 1898 at 1 Corporation Terrace, in the Ancoats district of Manchester, one of at least two daughters of William Brown Carson, a Scottish flour miller, and his wife, Mary Clarke Tordoff, an amateur singer. Violet Carson learned the piano from the age of two and her sister Nellie played the violin. As the Carson Sisters they sang at church functions and wedding receptions.

    At the age of fifteen Violet Carson became a pianist accompanying silent films, for 2 5s. a week, with the cinema orchestra at Manchester's Market Street Cinema, where Nellie was employed as a violinist. The two sisters then formed their own orchestra and moved to the Devonshire Cinema, before Nellie left to join the English Singers and Violet moved to the Scala Cinema in Withington. On 1 September 1926, at the age of twenty-eight, Violet married the road contractor George Frederick Peploe in Manchester Cathedral, but two years later he died. She returned to work, which she had given up during her marriage, and played the piano at the Ambassador Cinema, in Pendleton, Manchester, for six years until 'talkies' replaced silent films.

    In 1935 Violet Carson joined BBC radio in Manchester, singing everything from Stanley Holloway-style comic songs to operatic arias. She began in a show called Songs at the Piano and eventually became known as the voice of Auntie Vi in Children's Hour. She worked with the Council for the Encouragement of Music and the Arts during the Second World War, then spent six years as the pianist in the Wilfred and Mabel Pickles radio quiz show Have a Go! She was also a presenter and interviewer on Woman's Hour for five years and acted in many radio dramas. On stage she played the duchess of York in Richard III. But her greatest fame was to come on television, as Ena Sharples, the hairnetted harridan of Coronation Street. She appeared in its first episode, on 9 December 1960, and stayed with the programme for twenty years. When the characters were being cast, the programme's creator, Tony Warren, had remembered the fearsome Auntie Vi with whom he worked as a child actor on radio in Children's Hour. When he told her about the part, Carson commented that it amounted 'to nothing more than a back-street bitch'. Warren suggested that maybe she thought the role was too difficult, but she retorted, 'Don't be ridiculous! I have lived with this woman all my life. There is one in every street in the North of England' (Kay, 12).

    The part was hers and Ena Sharples, the God-fearing battleaxe with a razor-sharp tongue, was an immediate hit with viewers. She was often seen sitting drinking milk stout in the Rovers Return snug with Minnie Caldwell and Martha Longhurst, setting the world to rights. Ena was the matriarchal figure who epitomized the programme's tough, gritty, northern character, and Carson became the serial's biggest star. Her piano-playing talents were often used in Rovers Return singalongs and street shows.

    By the end of the programme's first year Ena was introduced at Tussaud's Blackpool waxworks. In 1965 Carson was appointed OBE in the queen's birthday honours and, eight years later, made an honorary MA by Manchester University. Her only regret about this success was that it did not allow her enough time to do other work, especially acting in the classics on stage. But she became a frequent guest on the popular religious programme Stars on Sunday, giving viewers a chance to hear her fine singing voice. Somewhat sadly, she once said, 'I don't want to be Sharples-that old bag-all my life. I want people to remember I'm Violet Carson' (United Press International, 28 Dec 1993).

    Carson took time off from Coronation Street in 1973 after suffering a nervous breakdown and left through ill health seven years later, having completed 1148 episodes. She was last seen in the serial in February 1980, with the character of Ena leaving for Lytham St Anne's to look after an elderly friend of her late husband. Carson died in her sleep at her home at 18 Fleetwood Road in Blackpool on Boxing day 1983, aged eighty-five, having suffered pernicious anaemia during her last years. The pleasure she had brought to millions was rewarded with a memorial service at Manchester Cathedral.

    Anthony Hayward





    Sources A. Hayward and D. Hayward, TV unforgettables (1993) + G. Kay, Coronation Street: celebrating 30 years (1990) + The Times (28 Dec 1983) + CGPLA Eng. & Wales (1984) + b. cert. + m. cert. + d. cert.

    Archives FILM BFI NFTVA, performance footage SOUND BL NSA, 'Violet Carson', BBC Radio 4, 3 June 1981, NP7577W TR1 + BL NSA, 'A portrait of the actress and singer Violet Carson', T3825W + BL NSA, performance recording

    Likenesses photographs, c.1962-1963, Hult. Arch. · Wood, photograph, 1968, Hult. Arch. · J. Madden, photograph, 1970, Hult. Arch. [see illus.] · J. Jackson, photograph, 1971, Hult. Arch. · R. Jackson, photograph, 1971, Hult. Arch.

    Wealth at death 194,602: probate, 13 March 1984, CGPLA Eng. & Wales

  2. #2
    Super Moderator Country: England
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    One hates to be pedantic, but according to this she was accompanying Silent films in Manchester until 1934/5....highly unlikely. She may have been in place for the last year or two of Silent presentation, but she is more likely to have been playing Overture and Interval music on a big Wurlitzer type thing....possibly singing too, as her move to Radio Manchester implies...cinema presentation still owed a lot to Variety practice at this time.

  3. #3
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    Violet Carson would turn in her grave at todays Coronation Street.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Country: UK
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    I watched a bit of this simple story about northern working class folk and now that Tracy Barlow has moved home from t' crime scene wit' berby after she brutally murdered her boyfriend, it suddenly occurred to me that them little houses must be like the Tardis inside. Ken Barlow's 2 bedroomed terrace currently accommodates Ken and Dreary, Dreary's mother Blanche, Tracy and her toddler, plus Ken's grown-up son Peter. So that's one couple, three adults and a toddler into two bedrooms! Perhaps three-in-a-bed incest is the next major simple story of northern working class folk!

  5. #5
    Senior Member Country: UK
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    It's the same in Eastenders Pats house currently has, Deano his sister Pat and Denise and her 2 girls and Kevin god will someone give me a house that sprouts rooms like that.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Country: England smiffy's Avatar
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    name='samkydd']I watched a bit of this simple story about northern working class folk and now that Tracy Barlow has moved home from t' crime scene wit' berby after she brutally murdered her boyfriend, it suddenly occurred to me that them little houses must be like the Tardis inside. Ken Barlow's 2 bedroomed terrace currently accommodates Ken and Dreary, Dreary's mother Blanche, Tracy and her toddler, plus Ken's grown-up son Peter. So that's one couple, three adults and a toddler into two bedrooms! Perhaps three-in-a-bed incest is the next major simple story of northern working class folk!
    It always tickles me when people say they caught a bit of a soap the other night and can tell you exactly what is happening.Come on sam there's no shame in watching corrie,and by the way ,oop north three in a bed isn't always a sexual reference if you live in a two up two down,it's the norm

  7. #7
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    name='smiffy'] It always tickles me when people say they caught a bit of a soap the other night and can tell you exactly what is happening.Come on sam there's no shame in watching corrie,and by the way ,oop north three in a bed isn't always a sexual reference if you live in a two up two down,it's the norm
    How I wish I could watch soaps on a regular basis because they take up most of the early evening schedule, but the truth is I can't stand them! The storylines are unrealistic, the acting is at best school play, and the characters are not interesting at all. The only reason why I watched the Tracy murdering cow episode was because Mrs samkydd has just come back from holiday and I felt obliged to sit and watch some of the omnibus udition with her while she caught up with events rather than leave her on her own and go out!

  8. #8
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    name='samkydd']How I wish I could watch soaps on a regular basis because they take up most of the early evening schedule, but the truth is I can't stand them! The storylines are unrealistic, the acting is at best school play, and the characters are not interesting at all. The only reason why I watched the Tracy murdering cow episode was because Mrs samkydd has just come back from holiday and I felt obliged to sit and watch some of the omnibus edition with her while she caught up with events rather than leave her on her own and go out!


    Yes we beleive you:

  9. #9
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    Sam



    Don't ever try and go and spend a penny in 'The Rovers', otherwise you will end up in next doors front room.

  10. #10
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    name='Carmel']Yes we beleive you:
    Bring back The Sullivans, The Cedar Tree and Crossroads, now they were proper soaps!

  11. #11
    Senior Member Country: England smiffy's Avatar
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    name='samkydd']Bring back The Sullivans, The Cedar Tree and Crossroads, now they were proper soaps!
    I can't remember the cedar tree ,was it any good?

  12. #12
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    Actually the last time I saw CORONATION STREET, Mr Swindley didn't show for the wedding with Miss Nugent. I cried when Martha Longhurst died. I have never seen a colour episode.



    I don't watch soaps - agreeing with Sam above as to why - and now that I am the age I am, I realize that every minute of my future is important and I don't want to waste any of it on soaps - I'd rather waste it on old movies....

  13. #13
    Senior Member Country: England smiffy's Avatar
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    name='Sam Boone']Actually the last time I saw CORONATION STREET, Mr Swindley didn't show for the wedding with Miss Nugent. I cried when Martha Longhurst died. I have never seen a colour episode.



    I don't watch soaps - agreeing with Sam above as to why - and now that I am the age I am, I realize that every minute of my future is important and I don't want to waste any of it on soaps - I'd rather waste it on old movies....


    So to put it in a nutshell Sam you're LOOKING FORWARD TO watching more of THE PAST!!

  14. #14
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    name='smiffy']So to put it in a nutshell Sam you're LOOKING FORWARD TO watching more of THE PAST!!


    As they said in the theme song of Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads, it's the only thing to look forward to.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Country: England smiffy's Avatar
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    name='Hell_driver']As they said in the theme song of Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads, it's the only thing to look forward to.


    : Looks like I can't claim that as original then,It's just that tomorrows almost over and today went by so fast ( not as fast as your reply) the only thing to look forward to now is a pint or three in about half an hour

  16. #16
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    name='Hell_driver']As they said in the theme song of Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads, it's the only thing to look forward to.
    It's rather depressing when even non-archaeologists prefer the past to the present. I'd be a bit happier if whenever I switched the telly on it wasn't full of members of the public, all talking crap in cliches, I can witness that in a bus queue! You wouldn't feel the need to keep going back in time for entertainment then, but unfortunately with drama such as Midsomer Murders, Bad Girls and Heartbeat your brain would shrivel up with inactivity! I read many books but sometimes you just want to switch the gogglebox on and say, "Entertain me!"



    What's even more depressing is that when Terry Collier went away in the army he was only gone for 5 years and even after that short space of time both of them were reminiscing about the good old days, and from Terry's point of view how things had changed for the worse even then! It brings it all home when you realise that Bob and Thelma bought their first house on The Elm Lodge Housing Estate 34 years ago!

  17. #17
    Senior Member Country: England Captain Casper's Avatar
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    name='Petuaria Pete']Sam



    Don't ever try and go and spend a penny in 'The Rovers', otherwise you will end up in next doors front room.




    And don't try buying Persil in Albert Square. No-one has a washing machine.

  18. #18
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    name='Captain Casper']And don't try buying Persil in Albert Square. No-one has a washing machine.
    The other thing is that no soapster has a job unless it's just a few yards from home! In Coronation Street no-one parks outside their house, the cars disappear completely until they are needed for a scene. Where do they go?



    Years ago in Eastenders I remember Pete Beale managed to stock his fruit and veg stall using a tiny Mini van for transport, while Pauline's elder son did it using a motorbike, and then the younger one Martin managed to stock the stall everyday without any transport whatsover! The stall full of goods disappeared each night and reappeared fully stocked the next day!

  19. #19
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    The one I wonder about is the Radio 4 "soap", The Archers.

    You never hear anyone listening to the radio on it.

    If they did, would they just get the whistle of feedback?



    Steve

  20. #20
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    name='Steve Crook']The one I wonder about is the Radio 4 "soap", The Archers.

    You never hear anyone listening to the radio on it.

    If they did, would they just get the whistle of feedback?



    Steve
    Yes and I seem to remember that no soapster ever talks about football in the pub or watches it on TV, but as soon as there is an international event such as the World Cup or Euro Championship they're all suddenly fanatical lifelong football fans and prepared to die to get a ticket for a game!



    If you're going to write drama it should at least be credible and realistic, but unfortunately for the sake of easy writing it rarely is. A colleague of mine pointed out that although Judge John Deed was totally unrealistic and incredible it was just a drama so it didn't matter! To me it's totally unacceptable and people in a position to produce TV drama should do some leg work and get their shoes dirty and research things properly!



    Going for the obvious all the time is also a sign of poor writing and you see repetitive silly things like in The Bill as soon as two policemen arrive at an incident the first thing they do is get out of the car and shout "Oy!" thus giving at least a 50 metre head start to the youthful athletic perpetrator and the lard arse coppers will never catch him! Relying on co-incidences is also a very lazy approach but unfortunately it is more common than ever now, a total cop out!



    Cashing in on The Brand is more important than providing quality entertainment, and lining each other's pockets in the process even more so!

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