WHEN Coronation Street was created, it was scheduled to last just a few weeks.

One critic memorably wrote after the first episode was screened: "It is doomed from the outset, with its dreary signature tune, grim terraced houses and smoking chimneys."

How wrong he was. The show has consistently managed to extend way beyond its gritty North-West industrial roots and its working class backdrop.

Coronation Street is not about any one region of Britain. It is about people; people we can all relate to in some way.

As the Prince of Wales said on his visit to Wetherfield yesterday, Coronation Street is a "wonderful institution".

It is a national treasure, exported around the world, depicting the finest attributes of British television.

Forty years on from its creation, it remains what it has always been, the show every other soap wants to emulate.

There have been many rivals over the years. But none have come to match the wide appeal of Coronation Street.

It has earned on merit its status as the world's longest-running TV drama serial.

It has been the breeding ground for many a distinguished actor, writer, director and producer, with some memorable scripts mixing drama and comedy, tragedy and romance.

Today, it remains as relevant and in touch with its audience as it did back in 1960, still capable of raising a smile or bringing forth a tear.

So here's to the next 40 years on the Street. Many happy returns at the Rovers.