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Adele Rose: Longest-serving scriptwriter for ‘Coronation Street’

Marcus Williamson
·4-min read
Rose was renowned for her sensitive handling of emotional issues (Rex)
Rose was renowned for her sensitive handling of emotional issues (Rex)

Adele Rose was Coronation Street’s longest-serving scriptwriter, working on the venerable soap from the early Sixties to late Nineties.

After becoming the programme’s first female writer, Rose went on to pen more than 450 episodes, including many of the show’s most memorable moments. She was also the creator of Byker Grove and several other drama series in a career spanning four decades.

Adele Rose, who has died aged 87, was born in Salford, Greater Manchester, in 1933 and educated at Broughton High School. She had been working at Granada Television as a secretary when she made the decision that would shape her future as a writer.

As a fan of Coronation Street since it was first shown in December 1960, Rose felt that “perhaps the script needed a woman’s touch. They had all those women in the cast, and all the writers were men.”

Her husband Peter Chadwick recalled: “She rang the producer and said, ‘All the strong characters in this programme are women, but you’ve got no women writers. Well, I’m a woman and I’m a writer.’”

Jack Rosenthal, an early writer for the soap, suggested that she try her hand at drafting a script. Rose debuted with episode 40 of Coronation Street, broadcast on 1 May 1961. She became a regular contributor the following year, scripting about 15 episodes annually throughout the Sixties.

She would continue with the programme until 1998, becoming renowned for her sensitive handling of emotional issues and for giving voice and agency to the many women’s roles in the programme. “It wasn’t a chore for her, she said she didn’t write, she just put down on paper what the voices in her head said,” noted Chadwick.

In an episode from November 1961, Rose made her mark by pitching Ena Sharples against Elsie Tanner, who erupted with such memorable venom: “Oh, I’d expect you to know somethin’ like that – every lying bit o’ gossip that goes about. What you don’t know, you make up – we don’t need sewers round ’ere, we’ve got Ena Sharples!”

Alongside the work for which she is best known, Rose also devised three series for television including Girls About Town (Associated Television, 1969-1971), a situation comedy about bored housewives who want to strike a blow for women’s liberation. Second Chance (1981, Yorkshire TV), starring Susannah York and Ralph Bates, was a light-hearted six-part drama series about divorce, which reflected her own experiences of separation and the end of her first marriage.

In 1989, Rose created the teenage drama series Byker Grove, about the members of a youth club in Newcastle. It became the longest-running network TV drama about the Tyneside area and touched on topics previously considered as taboo, such as teenage pregnancy, abortion and homosexuality.

Byker Grove also launched the careers of the young Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly, who, after meeting on set, went on to become the ubiquitous television stars Ant and Dec. The pair said in tribute: “She was an incredible lady and a wonderful writer. We will always be grateful for what she did for us and the northeast.”

She further found time to contribute to other popular television series including Within These Walls (LWT), Angels (BBC) and Rooms (Granada). Rose was part of the Coronation Street team that won the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain award in 1993 for the Best TV Original Drama Serial.

John Whiston, head of ITV in the north, said in tribute: “Not only was Adele a trailblazer, being the very first in what is now a long line of brilliant female Coronation Street writers, she was also particularly adept at giving voice to some of Corrie’s classic fearless female characters, from Ena to Elsie, from Bet to Liz.

“If you watched Corrie growing up, then some of the most memorable episodes that are lodged in your mind were written by Adele. And for that, the show will always be hugely grateful.”

Rose had retired to Cirencester in the Cotswolds with her second husband Peter Chadwick, who worked in newspapers. She is survived by him and her son Stephen from her first marriage. Her daughter, Carrie, predeceased her.

Adele Rose, scriptwriter, born 8 December 1933, died 28 December 2020

Correction: The original version of this article stated that Peter Chadwick was a journalist. This has been corrected to reflect that he worked for newspapers, but not as a journalist.

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