Final chapter for the man who wrote 599 episodes of TV soap

Fellow script writers, soap stars, family and friends of an immensely talented writer for the nation's favourive TV soap gathered to say their goodbyes at his funeral.

Thursday, 10th August 2017, 11:23 am
Updated Monday, 11th September 2017, 12:24 pm
The funeral service of Coronation Street scriptwriter Peter Whalley, who was from Hest Bank near Morecambe, took place today at Lancaster and Morecambe Crematorium. The coffin is taken in. PIC BY ROB LOCK 9-8-2017

Peter Whalley, 71, who lived in Hest Bank, wrote 599 episodes of Coronation Street, more than any other writer in the show’s 57-year history.

In a humanist, non-religious service led by Judith King, Peter Whalley was remembered as a living, vital presence, and a witty and talented man.

Friend Allen Brett, recalled Peter and his early childhood in Colne, and said the church, along with other religions and Burnley FC ‘were our life.’

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He said: “Our life was a much smaller world than today, there was no telephone or television.I remember having afternoon tea in the front room, followed by a game of cards.”

John Stevenson, who worked with Peter at Granada TV, said that in 1971 he was asked to round up contributors for a new show, similar to ‘That was the week that was’ and talent arrived in the form of Peter Whalley.

He said: ‘The troubles of a harassed publican’ was a remarkable piece of writing and I urged Bill Podmore to snap it up.

“Peter was always immensely encouraging and helpful to newcomers at story conferences.”

Joe Sumsion former artistic director at The Dukes Theatre in Lancaster, spoke about Peter saying he was a great advocate and friend of the theatre, a generous donor and was a pleasure to be around.

David Whalley, Peter’s younger brother, said: “Peter inspired others not just in teaching but to write. I’ll miss him as a brother.”

Peter’s two children Esther Willcocks (nee Whalley) and Matthew Whalley both paid tribute to their dad.

Before the committal, actor David Neilson, who plays Roy Cropper in Coronation Street, read from the Tempest, Prospero’s speech: Act IV, Scene 1.

Donations in Peter’s memory were to Rosemere Cancer Foundation.

A man who became one of the most successful and prolific scriptwriters for the nation’s favourite TV soap has died after a long battle with cancer.

Peter Whalley, 71, who lived in Hest Bank, penned more than 600 episodes of Coronation Street – more than any other writer in the show’s 57-year history.

Born and bred in Colne, Peter spent 32 years working for Granada Television and was behind some of the most dramatic and memorable scenes the show has ever seen, including the episode where arch villain Alan Bradley, played by actor Mark Eden, was killed by a tram in Blackpool.
Millions tuned in to watch the show when Bradley met his doom as he chased Rita Sullivan, played by Corrie veteran Barbara Knox, who had fled to the seaside town to escape his murderous clutches.

Peter, who had been battling cancer for nine years, also wrote the script for the ground breaking live episode of the show aired in 2010.

A year earlier he was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the British Soap Awards.

Coronation Street’s executive producer Kieran Roberts described Peter, who had been a Guardian at Lancaster’s Dukes Theatre for several years, as a “prolific and brilliant writer”.

He said: “Everyone who knew Peter will also remember the lovely man behind the great writing talent.

“Peter was an invaluable source of great ideas and equally great wisdom in our story conferences.”

Fellow writers and cast members are expected to attend Peter’s funeral at Lancaster and Morecambe Crematorium tomorrow, Wednesday.

A former pupil of Sacred Heart Primary School in Colne, Peter attended St Mary’s College in Blackburn before going on to study philosophy at Lancaster University.

He then went into the teaching profession for 10 years while pursuing writing as a hobby. He penned many successful radio dramas and when an appeal went out for story ideas for Coronation Street he sent in one of his scripts which was accepted immediately.

Producers got in touch with Peter and he started writing for the show on a regular basis, eventually giving up his job as a teacher to work full time at Granada Studios.

Peter was a lifelong Burnley fan and season ticket holder.

Peter’s brother David, who is the Mayor of Pendle, said: “My wife Barbara and I would watch the show and be able to recognise Peter’s writing if something was particularly funny or clever.

“He was very talented and also very lucky to have found what he excelled at in life, something that many people are not fortunate enough to achieve.

“But Peter was also very grateful for the success he had enjoyed and he never took it for granted.”

Peter, who leaves his wife Jan, two children and two grandchildren, had also written around 10 thriller novel