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Creator and scriptwriter Tony Warren, on the Coronation Street set  (Photo: ITV)     Actress Pat Phoenix  (Photo: ITV)
Creator and scriptwriter Tony Warren, on the Coronation Street set
(Photo: ITV)
Actress Pat Phoenix 
(Photo: ITV)
Tony Warren, Corrie’s creator,
saw actress’s ghost on TV set

HIS REMARKABLE creative skills made British television history by giving birth to Coronation Street – known to its legions of fans as “Corrie” – so Tony Warren’s passing on 1 March at the age of 79, deservedly grabbed the headlines in a fashion normally reserved for the soap opera’s stars.

He was, after all, just 24 when he came up with the idea for a serialised play and wrote all 13 episodes of the show when it was commissioned by Granada Television. The first episode went out on 9 December, 1960, and he continued writing scripts until 1968 when he moved into other fields. Corrie, of course, continues to this day: the world’s longest-running TV soap opera.

I would smell this great gale of perfume and one of my dogs, who would always go bananas when Pat Phoenix came to the house, suddenly started to behave as if she was there again   

What is not so widely known is that Warren – real name Anthony McVay “Tony” Simpson – had an interest in Spiritualism and it was probably his influence as a consultant that led to the inclusion of a controversial séance scene in the 1970s.

Having battled with addictions to drugs and alcohol, and experienced a chaotic private life, in recent years Warren had focused his creative on writing again, producing critically acclaimed novels including Foot of the Rainbow with its references to Spiritualism.

In it, one of the characters has a sitting with a medium named Arnold Tetley at the Spiritualist Association of Great Britain and, whilst waiting, drops a coin into a collecting box for the Harry Edwards Sanctuary.

But as well as touching on the subject of survival after death in that novel, Warren is on record as expressing a firm belief that we continue to exist after death.

It came after there were reports in 2009 that a number of the Corrie actors had claimed to see ghostly figures on the Granada Studios set. There have been several sightings of a ghostly figure with “long dark hair that wears a long coat”.

Some believe it to be the spirit of Pat Phoenix, who played Elsie Tanner before she died in 1986 from lung cancer.

Asked his opinion by The Sun newspaper, Tony Warren said he was utterly convinced that the set was haunted.

“He’s among those who reckon they’ve seen the ghost of Pat Phoenix wandering the set,” the newspaper reported. “Others claim to have seen her during the 1990 celebrations for the show’s 30th anniversary.

“Tony Warren said of his ‘sighting’ of Pat Phoenix: ‘I would smell this great gale of perfume and one of my dogs, who would always go bananas when Pat came to the house, suddenly started to behave as if she was there again. It was really very odd, but I was not afraid. Pat is welcome at my place anytime, dead or alive’.” 

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