25 years on...tram death that’s part of TV history

Famous scene:  Coronation Street's Alan Bradley lies dead beside the tram tracks opposite the Strand Hotel on Blackpool Prom as a distraught Rita Fairclough looks on
Famous scene: Coronation Street's Alan Bradley lies dead beside the tram tracks opposite the Strand Hotel on Blackpool Prom as a distraught Rita Fairclough looks on
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Rita!!!

It was one of the most unforgettable moments in TV soap history – the dramatic death of Coronation Street’s evil Alan Bradley, killed by a tram on Blackpool Prom.

The famous scene where Bradley, played by Mark Eden, chased Rita Fairclough (Barbara Knox) along the Prom was filmed 25 years ago this week.

When the episode was aired in December 1989, more than 27 million viewers tuned in to watch Bradley’s final moments as he was fatally hit by the tram.

Hayley Tamaddon, from Bispham – who currently appears in Corrie as Andrea Beckett – said: “I grew up watching Corrie, and then I went on to work at the indoor Corrie set in Blackpool as a tour guide when I was 17!

“There was a lot of excitement for the people of Blackpool. Having such a huge storyline being filmed in our hometown was amazing. And it’s never been forgotten.

“To this day people talk about the tram crash in Corrie. I think it’s been one of the biggest soap storylines ever and people will probably talk about it for the next 25 years as well.”

Comedian Keith Harris, who lives in Poulton, had only just moved to the area at the time Bradley met his grisly demise, but remembers it well.

“I’m a huge Corrie fan, I love it and I do remember watching it at the time,” he said

“It was quite a big thing.

“I actually went down to the spot where it happened. We didn’t know about the filming beforehand because they kept that secret, but we went afterwards.

“And when people come to visit even now, if we go along the Prom I point out that’s the place where Alan Bradley got run over by a tram.

“It was quite an iconic moment.”

Blackpool councillor Maxine Callow also remembers the famous moment.

“I can’t believe it’s 25 years! Time really does fly.

“It gave Blackpool a tremendous amount of publicity and really raised the profile of Blackpool.

“I think it also made people realise the trams are great, but they can be dangerous if you’re not paying attention or taking care.

“Coronation Street has been kind with its promotion of Blackpool over the years – the resort has been involved in several big storylines.

“It’s always great to see.”

Sandro Monetti, former Blackpool Gazette reporter, now living in Los Angeles, as a director of BAFTA LA, said: “There have been many historic TV moments the nation shared in together, such as the moon landing and the Charles and Di wedding, but for me the death of odious Alan Bradley was the most significant.

“For me, having grown up in Blackpool, this Coronation Street scene watched by 26.93 million viewers seemed like the moment my home town truly arrived on the media map.

“I remember it had been quite a year already for the town. The Stone Roses had made Blackpool cool again that summer, by drawing 4,000 flares wearing fans to the Empress Ballroom for a massive gig and then a few months later they eyes of the country were on us again in an even bigger way as the soap’s most sicko stalker met his maker on the Golden Mile.

“For those of us living in Blackpool at the time it was a very exciting moment and I remember everyone being joyous at the death of Alan Bradley – except me.

“You see I’m a huge fan of cult TV shows and actor Mark Eden, who played Alan, had been in a fair few – including Doctor Who and The Prisoner – and so, as one of my screen heroes, I had a hard time separating the actor from the character and seeing him as a villain. If only Rita had given him another chance, he’d never have had that fateful meeting with the tram.”

And former Gazette showbiz writer Robin Duke added: “The fact that 25 years (and very few copycat deaths) later pretty much everyone still remembers him/Blackpool/trams in the same breath means it was (and remains) invaluable publicity for the resort.”

According to The Coronation Street Story, shortly after the episode went out, someone put a plaque by the railings where Alan died, reading “Alan Bradley the sham got knocked over by a tram”

On December 8, 2009, Mark Eden unveiled a blue plaque to mark the episode’s 20-year anniversary outside the Strand Hotel, the venue chosen for the filming of much of the footage.

Alan’s exit was ranked 30th on Sky One’s 50 Greatest TV Endings in 2008 and 8th on ITV’s 50 Years, 50 Moments anniversary countdown.

Coronation Street has used Blackpool as a backdrop to many scenes since Bradley’s death.

Tyrone Dobbs proposed to his childhood sweetheart, Maria Sutherland, at the top of Blackpool Tower in 2000 but it was to all end in tears.

Des Barnes and Lisa Duckworth spent a memorable Christmas in Blackpool in 1992 while Jack and Vera Duckworth long talked of retiring to Blackpool before Vera’s heartbreaking death.

And, of course, most recently Roy Cropper came to Blackpool with the intention to scatter the ashes of his beloved Hayley.