THERE are two places that moved me to tears when I visited them. One was Venice. The other was the Coronation Street set at the old Granada Studios.

I’ve watched Coronation Street pretty much my whole life. My friends and family know not to call me at 7.30pm on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays because these are, of course, Corrie nights. I own a Newton and Ridley beer mat, Coronation Street mugs, books, DVDs, a jigsaw, pack of cards and Monopoly. On my fridge is a Hilda Ogden magnet, and on my desk stands a little Ena Sharples, scowling in her hairnet.

A highlight of my career was interviewing William Roache, who has played Street linchpin Ken Barlow since the show began. “I’m a bit of a fan,” I gushed. “I can tell,” he said.

I once blagged my way in to the Manchester premiere of an ill-fated Coronation Street musical (it was even worse than it sounds and pulled by producers the following day) and I made eye contact with Tony Warren across the ‘cobbled carpet’. It was quite a moment.

Tony Warren was 24 when he came up with an idea for a television series set on a “street out there”. Growing up in a Salford street, filled with the rythmic chatter of mothers over back yard washing lines, he was inspired by the working-class women who raised him.

It’s easy these days to dismiss Coronation Street as a cosy soap, but when it was first broadcast - on December 9, 1960 - there had never been anything like it. This was much like the streets ordinary people lived in, with a pub at one end and a corner shop at the other. In the Barlow family’s house was a bottle of HP sauce on the table, and shirt sleeves were rolled up to mend a bicycle puncture in the living-room. A couple of doors down, Elsie Tanner was painting on her face and scolding her teenage son for nicking two shillings from her purse. The locals in the Rover’s Return were working men and women, clocked off from day shifts and putting the world to rights over half a mild.

The residents of these houses were cleaners, factory workers, barmaids, shopkeepers and caretakers. One was out of work, another was contemplating divorce. Viewers sitting around their black and white TV sets recognised themselves in this little street and it was an instant hit. Granada bosses weren’t so sure, and the show was accused of perpetuating northern stereotypes, but back streets like this were familiar to many working-class people, and they took it to their hearts.

Coronation Street may not have been as edgy as the kitchen sink movement revolutionising post-war film and theatre, but there was social realism in its domestic scenes. And in restless, disillusioned Ken Barlow, it had its own angry young man.

When many terraced streets were demolished in the 60s and replaced with high rise flats - a theme echoed in a current Corrie storyline - the show’s legacy was a sense of community that we continue to cherish.

Next week is the 60th anniversary of Coronation Street. Not bad for a series that wasn’t expected to last beyond six episodes. It has long been at the heart of popular culture, driven by a first-class writing team that has included the likes of Jack Rosenthal and Paul Abbott.

Corrie’s 50th anniversary gave us a spectacular tram crash and a live episode.

This time it will be a more low key affair, but there will be warm tributes and nostalgic look-backs. In a changing world, Corrie is somewhere to come home to.

For me it’s just a show about the North that I’ve loved forever, and that I used to sit and watch with my dad.