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Thursday, 31 August 2017

Why Corrie would be crazy to kill off Rita

 

I'm flipping furious and that's a fact. There has been a great deal of publicity surrounding Coronation Street legend Rita Tanner over the past few days. Yes folks, her future is in doubt. Well, according to the tabloid press it is at any rate. I'm usually one to take these things with a huge pinch of salt as this kind of story sells newspapers and while Coronation Street are neither confirming nor denying the news, no news is good news as it suits the show to have Twitter a-flame about the famous Weatherfield redhead and #SaveRita trending away merrily. 

I'm torn on the whole issue. One the one hand I don't want anything rotten to happen to our Reet but on the other, at least it gives the Queen of the Kabin something to do other than raise an eyebrow heaven-ward at Mary and make camp asides at Norris Cole's campy side. The brilliant Barbara Knox has demonstrated time and time again what a cracking actor and asset she is to the Street showcasing her talents for both high drama and sparkling comedy since she joined the show on a permanent basis back in 1972. Being part of a double act in Corrie is normally a sign of legendary status however being part of several is taking the whole thing into a different cobbled stratosphere. Over the years we've seen Rita enjoy and endure a fiery, tempestuous marriage with Len; a sequined shoulder padded mare-fest with Bet Lynch; a chalk and cheese joyous pairing with dithery Mavis and most recently the Rita and Norris show. Legendary doesn't do it justice.

 

So why am I flipping furious? I loathe all the wild speculation at the imminent demise of such a strong character as Rita. She's weathered more storms than I've had gin and tonics. Let's look at the evidence: 

Rita's been the resident artiste at the Crossroads-esque Gatsby. She's woken up next to Len Fairclough after a night on the ale during the very brown 1970s (just what did they get up to during the ITV strike of 1979? She's brought up a teenage ginger-winge in Jenny Flamin' Bradley. She's tussled with a Blackpool tram (wearing a horrendous gold lame mac) to get away from evil Jenny's evil father. She married a sweet salesman with a BRAIN TUMOUR - been here already dear!. She endured the ups and downs <shudders> of the Wiltons' bedroom pursuits (it's all about the parsnips). She crawled through that awful storyline which saw a love hatch created between her flat and that of Bet's leftovers, Alec Gilroy. She inhaled a nasty dose of carbon monoxide poisoning, piped in by Mad Axe Man Brian Park. She was nearly flattened by a flying tram, coiffeure remaining intact throughout - "What is it with me and trams?" And for the past 40 years, she's been made to sing at will, sometimes while dressed as a pearly queen.

 

Those reasons alone are enough for Rita to hug a deadly illness and say "take me now!" but for me, Coronation Street just would not be the same without Rita Tanner and the brilliant Barbara Knox who plays her. I believe some online journos would call Rita a "legacy character". I'd call that a load of balls. Rita is quite simply class. She links the old with the new, bridges the gap between so many classic stories and characters with the generation which will hopefully keep the Corrie flag flying proudly. She has moved with the times, still has the wow factor and is one of the few surviving Corrie people who we fans would speak of in hushed tones if we ever had the stupendous fortune to curtsy before her. Rita and Barbara are Street royalty, part of the very fabric of the show and in the days when real bona fide Corrie legends are so thin on the ground, we surely cannot bid farewell to Rio Rita so soon. As a character and an actress she has much more to give.

I have moaned on before about how I feel Corrie's focus has switched away from portraying the lives of older people. It used to be such a strength. These days it's much more like Hollyoaks with added barm cakes. There are loads of younger characters I relish seeing but that trusted community of older characters has long since diminished and as of yet, they have not been replaced. Ten years ago we had Ken and Deirdre, Betty, Blanche, Jack and Vera, Emily and Audrey. Now we're down to Ken, Rita and Audrey (who has somewhat disappeared this year). The backbone of Corrie was always the older characters and the older audience who watched them, empathised with them and followed their ups and downs loyally for decades. 

 

Of course I'm not ignoring the possibility that Barbara Knox has decided to switch out the lights in the Kabin for one last time. She has been dedicated to Coronation Street longer than I've been on this earth and no matter what happens, we have decades of glorious moments to savour again and again. If Barbara has indicated she wants to retire or just move on, fair play and we should all respect her for that. Six episodes a week is looming and I've ordered my bulking up powders in preparation for watching it all, never mind learning the lines and being in it. If this is goodbye, I'd much rather see Rita go out with a fond farewell akin to Jean Alexander's exit back on Christmas Day 1987. The fondness the audience felt for that character and the years we'd collectively watched her struggle meant that a sweet finale that left a warm glow was all it could ever possibly be. I feel the same about Rita. So if she must endure this nasty brain tumour rubbish, please let's see that tough old broad Reet fight it tooth and nail and win. Then perhaps she can reassess her golden years, Mavis can make a brief reappearance and the pair can exit stage right together, Cartmel-bound. 

Nothing has been confirmed by ITV. We don't know how it will pan out, how long the story will last and how it will end. I will be bloody annoyed if it ends with credits rolling over a black screen and silence. I'd find that decision hard to stomach, so I hope you are reading Kate Oates.

To finish, a few reasons why Rita is simply the best, and therefore demands the very best from us and those who steer the show in 2017. First up, a joyous bit of gentle comedy from the 1990s. Remember when Corrie did comedy instead of locking people in cellars?


Here's a classic ding dong between Rita and Bet back in 1995:

 
And to show just what Barbara Knox (and Eileen Derbyshire) are capable of, have a look at this from 1983:



And I couldn't end without Rita's rendition of A Winter's Tale post-Tram Crash apocalypse:


And don't forget Rita's come back from the brink once before:


So please, Coronation Street, don't let this be the end of RIta. She deserves a whole lot better than a brain tumour and some silent credits.

You can follow me on Twitter @GraemeN82




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Famous Corrie fans wanted for charity


Are you famous? Even just a little bit?  

If you are, and you're a huge Corrie fan with 10 minutes spare to write about your love for our favourite soap, please do get in touch.

All we ask is for a couple of paragraphs about why you love Corrie so much. It could include your favourite characters and storylines and if you've any snippets from behind the scenes. 

In exchange, we will donate £25 to a charity of your choice - and your work will be read by up to half a million Corrie fans worldwide. Yes, that's half a million Corrie fans reading our Coronation Street fan website every month.  We will of course link to and promote you and any website or links, including your chosen charity, you'd like us to include with your blog post.  

If you're interested, please email a couple of paragraphs and your chosen charity for the donation, to me at glenda.sunderland@gmail.com  Thank you!

Some of our exclusive VIP bloggers and interviews so far include:

Our interviews with some of the Corrie cast, crew and special invited others...

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    Would you like to be our Coronation Street fan of the week?



    Would you like to join all these lovely Corrie fans and become one of our Coronation Street Fans of the Week here on the blog?

    Then all you need to do is reply to these easy questions, send in your picture if you can, and reply to me at glenda.sunderland@gmail.com  It's as easy as that!

    If you're 16 or under, please ask a parent or guardian to email us too with consent for us to use your details and photo on the website!

    1. Who are you and where are you from?
    2. How long have you been watching Corrie?
    3. Who are your favourite female and male characters - and the reasons why?
    4. What's been some of your favourite Corrie storylines over the years?
    5. And what would your fantasy Corrie storyline be?
    6. Have you any snippets or news about meeting any of the Corrie cast, or trips to the set, etc., that you'd like to share?

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    Harry Visinoni: "I want to be Charlie Stubbs"


    Harry Visinoni, who plays Seb Franklin in Coronation Street, answers questions from Corrie fans in this week's fab Inside Soap magazine.

    Harry is 18 years old and says that his whole family have watched Coronation Street for years. "It was pretty crazy when I got the job there because I came in and felt as if I knew everything about it."
    He says that if he could play any other Corrie character it would be evil builder Charlie Stubbs and that he looks up most to Connor McIntyre (Pat Phelan) in the current cast. "Connor took me under his wing and taught me the ropes. He's really helped me out and shown me how to do a good job on the scene. And of course I'm a Phelan fan so I hope he never gets caught."

    On advice he would give to other young actors, Harry says: "Have no fear. Go for it!"

    You can read the full interview in Inside Soap magazine which is in the shops now.


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    Join the Corrie fan campaign to #SaveRita

    @ConversationStr
    Before last night's Coronation Street episode aired, our friend Paul Lanagan at Corrie Art invited us to join together with the Corrie podcasters Conversation Street, Corriepedia and Corrie Street Collection to start a Twitter campaign to #SaveRita.

    @CoroStreetBlog
    We all planned in advance and decided that as soon as Rita came on screen last night, we were going to try to get #SaveRita trending on Twitter. We flooded our Twitter streams with pictures and slogans. It was a lot of fun... and it almost worked! #Rita started trending - so we were halfway there!

    @CStCollection
    Hundreds more Coronation Street fans joined in with the #SaveRita Twitter campaign. We're all hoping that Rita won't be written out and killed off with the brain tumour storyline that's been rumoured in The Sun. 

    @CorrieArt
    The #SaveRita campaign made the news!  We were all featured in Digital Spy

    The campaign also made the Daily Mirror which included a Tweet from @CStCollection


    And we made the Glasgow Evening Times and Radio Times too.


    In addition, AndyGibsonTV has created a petition on Change.org to keep Rita in Coronation Street. You can sign it here.

    ITV have neither confirmed nor denied the rumour in The Sun that Rita is being killed off. And yes, we know that there's a strong possibility that the tabloid rumour will be wrong - and I truly hope it is.

    But if you'd like to get behind the fun campaign to #SaveRita add your tuppence worth on Twitter here!


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    Inside Soap Awards - Coronation Street's Best Actress Nominations


    Voting is now open in this year's Inside Soap awards.

    Every day this week we're highlighting each of the categories you can vote in and turning the spotlight on to the characters and actors in the show who have been nominated.

    Today it's the award for Best Actress

    Up for nomination are three actresses as follows:

    Lucy Fallon (Bethany Platt); Kym Marsh (Michelle Connor); Catherine Tyldesley (Eva Price).

    VOTE HERE

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