A live hour-long episode of 'Coronation Street' marking its 50th anniversary passed smoothly as the cast acted out the aftermath of a dramatic tram crash.
Sixty-five actors and actresses and a crew of 300 were involved in last night’s highly-anticipated production, which featured a death, a birth and a wedding.
Molly Dobbs, played by Vicky Binns, became the second victim of this week’s tram disaster after finally confessing to Sally Webster (Sally Dynevor) that her husband, Kevin Webster (Michael Le Vell) was the father of her baby, Jack.
Viewers also saw Fiz Stape (Jennie McAlpine) give birth to a premature baby girl and a seriously-injured Peter Barlow (Chris Gascoyne) married Leanne Battersby (Jane Danson) from his hospital bed before flatlining, leaving fans to wonder if he would survive.
The transmission came after months of feverish speculation about who would die when an explosion rocked the Joinery and caused a tram to career on to the cobbles in the soap’s anniversary week.
It appeared to go smoothly, with barely a fluffed line from the cast, but fans on Twitter wondered whether they had spotted disabled Izzy Armstrong (Cherylee Houston) standing up from her wheelchair.
Programme-makers pre-recorded a dress rehearsal as a back-up in case of a technical emergency, and police were drafted in to make sure the event was secure.
A show spokesman said the episode was transmitted “absolutely live” and there was no need to revert to the pre-recorded run-through.
In a further revelation during the nail-biting episode, paramedics found that Charlotte Hoyle (Becky Hindley) had a pulse after a frantic John Stape (Graeme Hawley), who had clobbered her with a hammer, tried to pass her off as a victim of the tram crash.
The episode also saw Becky McDonald (Katherine Kelly) and sister Kylie Turner (Paula Lane) come to blows after it emerged that Kylie had snatched her son Max.
And in a poignant scene, the voice of Ashley Peacock (Steve Arnold), whom viewers saw die in Wednesday night’s episode, was heard in an answerphone message on the mobile of his distraught wife, Claire (Julia Haworth).
After the closing credits rolled, Michelle Keegan, who plays Tina McIntyre, said: “I can’t believe it’s all over. I want to do it again.”
Actor Hawley, who as hapless John Stape had to rush between sets with just seconds to spare, said he “had a great time”.
And Ryan Thomas, who plays Jason Grimshaw, said: “I’m ecstatic, overwhelmed and proud to be a part of TV history. I’m proud of everyone who was involved.”
'Coronation Street' wraps up its special week of programming tonight, when at least one more death is expected.
Fans will have to wait and see whether anyone discovers a trapped Rita Sullivan (Barbara Knox) in time, whether Peter will pull through, and how new father John will get out of his latest fix.
The show’s last live broadcast was screened in 2000 to mark the soap’s 40th anniversary.