Becky (Katherine Kelly) and Kylie (Paula Lane) in tonight's episodes.

(Mild spoilers, including pics)

ALL TV soaps go through peaks and troughs.

Like waves on the shore, they take time to flow towards moments of crashing brilliance.

Footprints in the sand captured on screen to be remembered forever.

Tonight brings another high tide as the exceptional Katherine Kelly (Becky McDonald) takes her leave of Weatherfield.

Betty Driver as Betty Williams

SHE may be 90, but there’s still a twinkle in Betty Driver’s eye.

Corrie’s hotpot queen has been in showbusiness for 80 years and was a leading lady of stage, film and TV long before Weatherfield came calling.

Betty is the subject of tomorrow’s (Sunday) Desert Island Discs at 11:15am on BBC Radio 4, expertly presented by Kirsty Young.

I’ve already listened to the programme and written a story to go online after the embargo expires at midnight tonight.

MEN front page Nov 25 2004

DEDICATED Coronation Street fans will know that this week’s tram crash was first suggested six years ago.

My exclusive story was published in the Manchester Evening News on November 25 2004.

It revealed that a story proposal for 2005 – yet to be finalised – had been put forward to crash a tram into the Rovers Return from a viaduct at that end of the street.

A special edition of The Weathefield Gazette – Coronation Street’s very own newspaper – was published yesterday.

The 32-page tram crash issue was printed in the Manchester Evening News, with the full support of ITV, to mark Corrie’s 50th anniversary today – Thursday Dec 9 2010.

And I was lucky enough to land a staff job…for one week only.

I wrote three features for the Gazette, including interviews with producer Phil Collinson, executive producer Kieran Roberts and cast members Michelle Keegan (Tina McIntyre), Craig Gazey (Graeme Proctor) and Antony Cotton (Sean Tully).

Tony Warren, the man who started it all in 1960, also gave up his time to speak to me.

Rita Sullivan lies unconscious in The Kabin

“THERE’S been an explosion. It’s Coronation Street…Weatherfield, yes. There’s flames everywhere. I think there’s people still in there.”

Deirdre Barlow dials 999 next week…

A tram carriage dusted with snow was still hanging from the viaduct when I visited the Corrie cobbles yesterday.

Ready and waiting for the hour-long live ITV1 episode next Thursday.

I was among a small group of journalists invited to Manchester to be the first “outsiders” to see the two episodes which will be screened on Monday.

Plus a teaser trail of events later in the week leading up to that live episode on the night of Corrie’s 50th anniversary.

L-R: Kieran, Kym, Mark, Tony, David and Phil

THERE was a lot of love in the room for Coronation Street last night.

A special event at the British Film Institute on London’s South Bank, hosted by both the BFI and BAFTA, to salute the longest running drama serial in the world.

It began with a big screen outing for the first three episodes, originally broadcast half a century ago.

Followed by an hour-long panel discussion featuring Tony Warren – “the father of Coronation Street” – plus current producer Phil Collinson, executive producer Kieran Roberts and cast members Kym Marsh (Michelle Connor) and David Neilson (Roy Cropper).

Which threw up several interesting stories, including an explantion by Phil of how the axeman does not cometh when a new producer arrives.

With some “terrified” cast members hiding from him when he began the job earlier this year.

Christopher Eccleston as Willy Houlihan

IT’S no secret that Christopher Eccleston is one of my favourite actors.

Maybe yours too?

He’s a class act and as intelligent off screen as on.

I spoke to him recently – on the day after the government’s spending cuts were announced – about his role in episode one of Jimmy McGovern’s new BBC1 series Accused.

Which includes his character Willy calling a banker a name I can’t repeat here.

My interview with Chris is in today’s Manchester Evening News, and also online below with a few extras I couldn’t fit into the main article.