Created 13th October 2004
Updated 20th July 2007
Played by & Website for Barbara Mullaney/Knox
Appeared: 27th November 1964, 1972-
Rita was Born: 25th February 1932
Married: 20 April 1977 Len Fairclough
at St Mary's Parish Church (he died 7th December 1983)
Married 2nd: 5 June 1992 Ted Sullivan at Weatherfield Register Office (he died 9th September 1992)
The Following Profile was submitted by Patricia Dempsey and is ©2004, 2007 to Patricia Dempsey & emmerdale.org
Rita Littlewood was born to Harold and Amy in Fallowfield, Manchester. Harold left home in 1940 leaving Amy to bring up her wayward daughter alone until she died in 1956. When Rita left school in 1946 she worked for a time in a grocer's shop but was determined to fulfil her ambition to be in showbusiness. In 1964 she turned up in the Rovers Return looking for somwhere to stay. She was at that time an exotic dancer and her friend had broken her arm, leaving Rita on her own for a while. She spotted her old friend Dennis Tanner and persuaded him to put her up since his mother Elsie was away at the time. Rita's stay was short. Charlie Moffatt came through the ceiling of Elsie's room and she wasn't seen again for many years.
She took up with construction worker Harry Bates in 1968 and agreed to move in with him and look after his two young children, Terry and Gail. She lived there for 4 years and carried on working until she met Terry's teacher in 1972, Ken Barlow. When she was upset with Ken for not being interested in her, she turned her attention to Len Fairclough, then a Councillor, with the plan of getting them all a better house. Harry became increasingly jealous and hit her after discovering their affair, swiftly followed by throwing her out. But Len ended the relationship after receiving a warning from the Mayor despite going to see Harry afterwards and hitting him on Rita's behalf. Rita disappeared for several months and Len, Elsie and her husband Alan Howard were surprised to see her on a night out at a club under the name Rita Littlewood. Elsie clearly disapproved of Len having anything to do with Rita but he didn't listen. She then became engaged after giving up on Len to bookie Benny Lewis. But Len finally declared his feelings and she dumped Benny for Len.
In 1973 Len bought Biddulphs newsagent with the intention of running his own and asked Rita if she'd like to manage it for him, leaving her to hire an assitant. When Mavis Riley turned up, she was so nervous she had hiccups but Rita hired her anyway. Rita and Len also became engaged but that was broken off in 1974 when she suspected Len was being unfaithful. She continued running The Kabin, as Biddulphs had been renamed, singing in nightclubs and stayed friends with Len and even had a disasterous relationship with the married estate agent Jimmy Graham, who refused to leave his wife for her.
As 1977 began, she and Len grew closer and after he had been impressed by the way she comforted Ken after he had discovered his second wife Janet had committed suicide while staying over. Rita was still finding his lack of commitment frustrating and announced she had been offered a 4-month job in Tenerife with the possibilty of never returning to Weatherfield. He proposed but she told him it was three years too late. She resigned as manager of The Kabin and had a leaving party. She reluctantly agreed to letting him drive her to the airport where they talked and she decided to give up her dream job to become Mrs Fairclough. Her agent was furious and decided to sue. Len paid him off and he and Rita set about making their wedding plans. On the 20th April they finally married and she moved in to number 9 Coronation Street amid promises of a better life and a new house. During the first couple of years of their marriage, Rita's frustration grew more as Len took her for granted, did nothing with the house and had no intention of moving. He also voiced his disapproval of young Terry Bates visiting her and her putting him up. She left him in January 1980, taking a room in a bed and breakfast. Len found her and they argued about a man she'd been seeing platonically, resulting in him slapping her. She disappeared again until Len found out the following month she was in Blackpool working in a launderette. He drove up to persuade her to go back to him but she was adamant she was staying put. Len went home desolate and was surprised when he heard the front door open and saw her standing in the lobby. Things continued pretty much the same until 1981 when Rita decided she wanted to adopt a baby. Len, considering their ages and the mess he'd made of his own son's upbringing, was none too keen. She persuaded him to try the adoption process but were told they were too old which broke Rita's heart. So they decided to give fostering a go and took in John Spencer, a 13-year-old, while his mother was in hospital. That was deemed successful so they were then given 16-year-old Sharon Gaskell the following year who caused no end of trouble between Gail and Brian Tilsley. Meanwhile, Len had been granted planning permission to rebuild and sell number 7. Rita decided that would be her new home as it was much better than her current one. Len stood firm and said it was being sold but she and Sharon won him round and they moved in. In 1983 Rita's world collapsed on the night of the 7th December when, after singing at the Ogden's ruby wedding, was told Len had died in a car crash on his way home from Bolton. After the funeral she was clearing out his pockets when she came across an address of one Marjorie Proctor who Len had been having an affair with. She went round to confront Marjorie but after seeing how upset she was at Len's death too left in peace. But Rita vowed never to sing publicly again.
The following year, Mavis and Derek finally announced their engagement after eight years of their on/off relationship. Mavis moved in with Rita with the intention of leaving for the church from there. Rita and Emily helped her get ready but then Mavis got the jitters. She told Rita she couldn't go through with it and no amount of talking from Rita changed her mind. Rita went to the church to break the news only to discover Derek wasn't turning up either. When she returned to the house to fill Mavis in on the latest developments, she discovered Mavis had gone away, ashamed to face everyone after being convinced she had jilted him. Towards the end of the year, Bet's boyfriend, police sergeant Tony Cunliffe, took a shine to Rita much to Bet's annoyance. He dumped Bet, determined to pursue Rita. But Rita wasn't ready for a relationship and told him.
Rita agreed to go to Majorca in June 1985 with Mavis and was pleased Emily was going for Mavis's sake. Mavis dithered about booking, telling Rita she didn't want to be stuck with Emily going around cathedrals and buying old lace, and wanted to go away only with her. Rita was touched, especially after the way she treated her assistant leading Mavis to remark she must need her head read. Jack joked to Mavis about going topless much to her horror and she stormed out when Rita told her no one would notice. Rita was surprised to learn from a customer the hotel the tour company had put them in outside Palma was basically a building site and a terrible place. With the holiday cancelled and Emily pulling out, Rita and Mavis considered somewhere in the UK instead. Bet suggested to Rita they went to Blackpool for a few days without Mavis. Rita wasn't sure, so Bet told her to leave Mavis to her. That night in the pub, Bet and Rita's plans were scuppered when Mavis agreed to go to Blackpool with them. From being driven to distraction by Mavis's changing her mind all the time about what to wear to her ideas for sightseeing, the final straw was when Alf announced he would drive up one day and spend time with them. Rita was forced to tell him in no uncertain terms she didn't want him there because of the way he felt about her. The trio eventually went on their trip but Rita ended up refereeing between Bet, who wanted to pick up men, and Mavis who wanted to go on excursions. All three met sales reps who were up for a toy fair in the hotel bar one night. Glenn Pritchard got nowhere with Rita, while Bet almost did with Wally Trainer until he felt guilty and showed her the family snaps. Mavis disapproved of Glen, pointing out to Rita he was married and young. Rita replied she didn't care since it had been a tough 18 months and she wanted to enjoy herself. Only Mavis's fella, widower Norris Birchall, who was Glen and Wally's boss, was single and had a much better than Rita and Bet, much to their jealousy. Rita 's problems with Alf were far from over and in September she invited him round to tea. Rita worried when he talked about how much they had in common. She and Mavis attended the re-opening of his Mini-Market but Rita decided against going in. When she eventually turned up, he'd had a few drinks, shut the shop, told her he really wanted her to be there and proposed. Stupidly, she told him to leave it until he was sober which he took as encourangement. He phoned her at the shop and she reluctantly agreed to meet him in the Rovers at lunchtime. When he seemed overkeen, she walked out when he went to get her a drink. Mavis thought he would be too stupid to not get the message to which Rita told her he wasn't stupid but obsessed. She decided to go and see him after the shop had closed. He admitted he had got the message so she assured him she wanted to be friends and nothing else. He perisisted though, telling her he didn't expect her to love him. She fought back the tears as she said she wanted to love whoever she was going to marry.
January 1986 changed her life forever. A papergirl, Jenny Bradley, lost her mother suddenly and had no one to look after her as her aunt didn't want the girl. Rita was asked by her old social worker, Don Worthington, if she could take her in until they had tracked down Jenny's father. Rita agreed, assured it was only temporary. A few weeks later Rita was informed they had found Alan Bradley in Leeds and he was coming over. As Jenny was aloof towards him, he and Rita got closer and started to see each other. Jenny became jealous and accused Rita of trying to take her father away from her. Alan took Jenny's side when was being difficult which created more tension. When Alan found a flat, Jenny immediately went to live with him leaving Rita to feel like a failure. Alan and Rita continued seeing each other and he got into a fight with Terry Duckworth after he had said some things about Jenny. Rita was appalled as it reminded her of Len, but the next day Alan explained he was on a 2-year suspended sentence for hitting someone and that time wasn't up yet. She forgave him but he then started an affair with Rovers barmaid, Gloria Todd who lived across the hall. Jenny was delighted about this as she preferred Gloria to Rita. After the Rovers burned down, Gloria got a job as barmaid in the Graffiti Club, now owned by Alec Gilroy, Rita's old agent. Gloria managed to get Jenny an audition with him. He had been impressed and offered to sign her up much to Rita's fury. She warned Alan what Alec was like and how she had been old enough to take care of herself but Jenny wasn't. Alan put his foot down to Jenny which made her resent Rita even more. Gloria went to see her at the shop and casually informed her that she was messing up her relationship with Alan. Rita was heartbroken. It had taken a lot to get involved with him and let him stay over and now she was being two-timed again by someone she loved and trusted. She and Alan had been invited to a dinner party at Mike and Susan Baldwin's but Rita was edgy and kept making barbed comments. In the car she told him his games were over and it was finished between them. The following day when Gloria saw Rita again, Rita told her she'd been seeing Alan as well. Gloria was upset and dumped him before going away. Mike and Susan engineered a dinner party and invited the pair of them. Alan told Rita he had chosen Rita over Gloria and she believed him. Jenny was the only one unhappy at the news, even more so when they planned a holiday in Jersey until Rita talked to her and said they would share a room and Alan would be on his own. A couple of months later, Alan became elusive again and Rita was worried he was seeing someone else. She decided to confront him, sure Jenny knew something like last time but wasn't saying. He finally admitted he had been made redundant much to her relief. He took a job in Dubai for 3 months, leaving Rita to look after Jenny again while he was gone. At the end of the year, Rita reluctantly agreed to let Martin Platt borrow her car to take Jenny to a singing competition in Rochdale but was horrifed when the car crashed. Martin was unconscious while Jenny had just cuts and bruises. She tried to get to the bottom of what happened but before she could, Alan arrived back. After much arguing, Jenny finally confessed she was driving that night and not Martin, who had tried to stop her. Alan took them down to the police station and bought Rita a new car. After she turned down his marriage proposal, saying she never wanted to get married again, he turned nasty, saying he thought at her age she wouldn't be so fussy. The following day he told Mavis he was returning to Dubai and for her to check with Rita it was still all right for her to look after Jenny. Her heckles rising at the cheek of the man, she went round to where Alan was staying where she explained why she didn't want to get married. He agreed to move into her house then set about modernising The Kabin, much to Mavis's annoyance to the point she quit for a while, and started a video library to replace the records. He still wanted to marry Rita but knew what the answer would be so Jenny talked him into arranging a surprise wedding that August. When they turned up at the registry office and saw Mavis, Jenny as well as Alf and Audrey Roberts, Rita demaded to know what was going on. Alan told her this was their wedding. Furious, she got back into the taxi and went home. After another argument, they made up. Alan then got job with a friend installing burglar alarms. But then he kept disappearing and Rita discovered Alan had been working on his own and stealing the clients. Alan explained he wanted to set up on his own. He talked her into lending him £6000 to buy equipment, only instead he bought a second-hand car. Rita was angry again. Her suspicions were aroused he was after more money when he announced he needed £1000 to buy some alarms. She refused to lend him any more after that business with the car. He then persuaded her to let him use Len's old yard as his base, but craftily returned the key afterwards, saying it was pointless having premises with no alarms so she made out another cheque for £1000 as a gift, saying if she ever needed a burglar alarm he could put one in for free. His business went from strength to strength during 1988 and everything in the garden seemed rosy except Alan was seeing one of his former clients, Carole Burns. Jenny was shocked when she found out from Martin and did everything she could to get her dad to stop ruining his relationship with Rita but he refused. When Rita found out, Alan again turned nasty verbally and he walked out. Jenny blamed Rita for not making him stay. Things got worse when she demanded the yard back as well as all the £6000. He went around telling everyone who would listen he owed Rita nothing because she'd given him nothing and she was just being greedy and spiteful. Jenny didn't help matters by lying to Rita about his living arrangements, saying he was on his own when he wasn't but after several weeks got his own place, telling Carole it was for Jenny's sake. Mavis and Derek did their best to matchmake as Alan was meant to be Derek's best man that November but all attempts failed. At the wedding, Rita got increasingly drunk and constantly looked towards the door in the hope Alan had changed his mind. Shortly afterwards, Rita summoned up the courage to see him and ask him to go back to her. Despite her begging and tears, Alan was hard-hearted and Rita left humiliated. Alan then talked to Carole about his plans for a shop and she made it perfectly clear she wouldn't lend him any money. That night he turned up on Rita's doorstep and both she and Jenny were pleased to see him. The following month he borrowed the deeds to the house, got them photocopied and applied for a £15,000 loan posing as Len Fairclough so he could buy his shop. At the opening, Carole Burns turned up and created a scene with Rita, saying he had only gone back to her for her money. Everything seemed rosy again with Rita ignorant to the fact Alan's eye was wandering again which would have serious consequences. After assaulting his employee, Dawn Prescott, she fled, returning the next day with her friend. Alan denied trying to rape her and Dawn threatened to tell Rita about him. He got to Rita first, saying he had to sack Dawn for being a terrible employee. Dawn arrived at The Kabin as it was about to close and told Rita what happened. Rita didn't believe her but her curiosity was aroused when Dawn mentioned having seen letters addressed to Leonard Fairclough in Alan's desk. She decided to do a bit of investigating. After Alan told her how snowed under they were, he refused her offer to look after the shop so he and Martin could be out working. But Rita went anyway and relieved Martin. As soon as he was gone, she began to search the office and her heart sunk when she saw it all in black and white what Alan had done. Meanwhile Martin turned up where Alan was, told him Rita was at the shop and Alan raced back. Rita, on hearing a car, hurriedly put everything back where it was and went to greet him breathless. He made an excuse about forgetting some plans in his briefcase and checked to see if the keys were still there, kissed her then left. Soon afterwards she went to the building society about it. She was distraught and they said they'd look into it. When she arrived home, she got out her biscuit tin and for a split second assumed she'd made a mistake when she saw the deeds until she realised they were only photocopies. A couple of days later it was the party for Jenny's 18th birthday. However, no matter how hard she tried, she couldn't stop thinking about what he had done. As she was holding the photocopies, he stood into the doorway. He knew he was caught out and tried to worm his way out of it by blaming her for never having any faith in him and not wanting them to marry. But when she told him she'd told the building society, he saw red and lunged at her as she answered the phone. Jenny and Martin sped to the house after Jenny had heard screams on the phone and walked in on Alan with the cushion over Rita's face. He ran, got into his car and drove off. Rita survived but was battered in pride as well. Jenny tried helping her dad get out of the country but the police had been following her and after a chase, arrested him. He blamed Jenny for betraying him. Rita was terrified of being on her own and turned to drink. Jenny continued lying to her, even about visiting her dad in prison. She had finally seen through him after all he thought about was how hard done to he'd been and never even asked how she was, though that wasn't to last long. At his trial, the police thought Rita a hostile witness so talked to the defence about Alan changing his plea to guilty for assault. He got 2 years, 1 year of that suspended, and was a free man. Jenny was delighted. Rita was terrified. Once free, he paid his first visit to Rita who was alone in the house. He was as calm as anything as he mentally tortured her and he only left when there was a knock at the door. He made his way to see Jenny and told her how he was willing to forgive but Rita wouldn't let it go. Jenny, desperate to keep her dad, believed every word he told her and started to take sides. Things became worse for Rita after he took a job as a labourer on the building site opposite. He began to stalk her and made certain they couldn't trace anything back to him. Even Rita's friends began to think she was obsessed with Alan, since he was being a model citizen, and turned against her. When The Kabin was broken into and videos stolen, Rita immediately blamed Alan since he'd told her he wanted compensation for them. Alan was arrested and Rita was none too happy when it turned out to be two kids. Her drinking increased, friends were rapidly deserting her but at least she still had Jenny. Alan's plans were working but he had one more up his sleeve to deliver a final blow which would leave her alone and vulnerable. He sneaked off the site and let himself in through the back door. When Rita returned and saw the biscuit tin on the dining table open, she panicked and ran for help. She waited in Don Brennan's taxi until the police arrived. Despite going over the house, they found no sign of a forced entry but did note the alcohol on her breath. Alan was questioned but his workmates said he'd never left the site. When Jenny returned she was furious, packed and left. Rita was devastated and as she looked out of the window, spotted Alan smirking across the road. Everyone began to worry when Rita disappeared. Alan was accused of murdering her and burying her body on the site, resulting in it being dug up and him being sacked for all the disruption he kept causing. Alan hated Rita more than ever. Alec Gilroy was surprised to get a phone call from an old friend of his in Blackpool a few weeks later, Cyril Partridge, mentioning a woman singer staying at his hotel calling herself Rita Littlewood. Bet and Alec went to Blackpool and sure enough, it was Rita, only she had blanked out the past few years and believed Len was still alive. The following day Alec returned to Weatherfield while Bet decided to take Rita to the hospital to get her some help. While Bet was explaining things to the nurse, Rita left. Bet phoned Alec and told him he could tell everyone that Rita was alive. Alec went to see Jenny with the news and she insisted he personally tell Alan. Alan's hatred of Rita intensified on hearing the news and he drove to Blackpool to confront her. When he arrived at the hotel, he found Bet in Rita's room which threw him. Bet told him that Rita had gone again so he furiously went back to his car. Bet told Cyril to call the police. As Alan was about to start the car, he spotted Rita innocently walking towards the hotel. He got out and Rita's memory returned when she looked up at the person blocking her way. Bet watched from the window helpless while Alan dragged Rita round the car and pushed her inside. As he went round to the driver's side, she got out and ran across the road. He chased after her and was hit by a tram, killing him instantly. Jenny blamed Rita for Alan's death and didn't want anything to do with her. They eventually made up in 1990 and Rita decided to sell The Kabin in Rosamund Street and relocate to the shop in Coronation Street, also taking the flat above and renting the house to Jenny and her friend Felicity Khan. For the next couple of years Rita enjoyed a fairly quiet life with only Reg Holdsworth to fend off.
Then in February 1992 sweet salesman Ted Sullivan announced he was retiring. He and Rita became close after two burglaries at the shop and she fell in love with him. He talked about moving to Florida and asked her to go with him as his wife. Rita left Mavis and Derek Wilton in charge of the shop while they went away for a fortnight to look at properties as a dry run before buying it from her. But on their return he told her he had a brain tumour and was going to die. Rita's world was turned upside down again and Ted left her to think about their future, saying he understood if she decided it was over. After some considerable thought, she went to see him, telling him she would marry him but Florida was out of the question. Although retiring there had always been his dream, he reluctantly agreed to living at Rita's flat where she would be surrounded by her friends for when she needed them. Rita then had to tell Mavis and Derek the sale was off, though still intended to sell her house. She desperately wanted to explain why but Ted asked her not to. Mavis and Derek were naturally upset and angry and didn't want to speak to her. But Rita was never one to give up on a friendship and, after managing to avoid Derek, suggested to Mavis that she and Derek still ran it but with Mavis as manager. Mavis accepted the offer but Derek wasn't happy since he'd turned down a well-paid job to own the shop. By now, Alf and Derek were getting suspicious of Ted's motives for marrying Rita, which Reg had already expressed by doing some digging into Ted's past. On Rita's hen night, she broke down in front of Audrey after she said she and Alf had bought them a life membership to the National Trust. She begged Audrey not to say anything and she promised. Rita and Ted's wedding day on the 5th June wasn't without its hitches. First Rita had to sort out the till for Derek, who had refused to attend the wedding but after some persuading from Bet went. Then Curly Watts tried to get her to sell him her house for less. She agreed to knock a couple of thousand off and returned to Ted who was having difficulties. After a test to pick up her engagement ring, Rita insisted they went to the hospital. Once there, they were told the news Ted had a few months or a few years left. He gave her the choice to back out but she didn't and they married. After the honeymoon even Bet turned against Ted much to Rita's annoyance. But Audrey, fed up with Alf and Reg's constant criticism of the man and accusing him of marrying Rita for her money, blurted out the truth to Alf, who in turn, told Reg that Ted was ill. When Reg made barbed comments in the pub about his illness, Ted stormed out. As Alf and Audrey knew, it was time to tell Mavis and Derek. Peace was restored between them. Gradually Ted became irritable and was even picked up by the police who thought he was drunk and taken to hospital. His health declined and Rita became really upset when he lapsed into the past as spoke to her as though she were his first wife. But things seemed to be going fine on the 9th September when they went to Percy Sugden's bowls match. Ted complained of feeling hot so went to a bench in the shade. After the game ended, Rita went to wake him only to find he was dead. At the reading of the will, which left the majority in Rita's favour, her brother-in-law accused her of money-grabbing and threatened to take her to court. After a long, drawn-out battle, things were settled and Rita won, though she felt Ted's memory had been sullied by it all.
Jenny Bradley made a surprise visit in 1993 which delighted her. But things turned sour after Jenny learned of Rita's inheritance and asked to borrow £30,000. Rita gave her £1000 and told her she never wanted to see her again. The following year, after getting close to Kevin and Sally Webster, she became an adopted grandmother to Rosie and Sophie which worked out fine for a few years until Sally accused her of trying to by herself a family. She also found she was defending herself against Mavis's jealousy when an artist friend of Mavis took a shine to Rita and wanted to paint her portrait. Mavis, who had already had hers done by Roger Crompton and it had been displayed in the library, told him Rita was a man-eater.
In 1995 she fell out with her old friend Bet after deciding against buying the Rovers for her to run. Things were fairly quiet for a few years apart from a proposal of marriage by Fred Elliott in 1996 until he tried saving face by claiming he was a womaniser. October 1997 and Mavis left for a new life in Cartmel after Derek's death. She was upset Rita had backed out of buying the guest house together but they remained friends. She hired Leanne Battersby who was a great help to Rita over the months. After a new gas fire was badly installed by Steve McDonald, Rita was eventually overcome by carbon monoxide fumes and collapsed in her flat. She was distraught at what was happening to her memory, even to the point of leaving the keys in the shop door. Alec Gilroy, now living next door wanted Steve charged but Rita decided to put it down to experience. He suggested connecting doors so he could keep an eye on her easier which generated much gossip. They became close as she recovered to the point they planned to get married. But Rita had second thoughts after realising they didn't trust each other and broke it off.
She was over the moon in 1999 when Sharon Gaskell walked into the shop and announced she was getting married. However, Rita discovered Sharon's fiancé Ian was also seeing Natalie Barnes. She told Sharon who refused to cancel the wedding but realisation of the betrayal hit her at the altar and she attacked Ian. Rita, as always, was there to pick up the pieces. Ignoring advice, she gave the shop to Sharon as a birthday present and retired. Leanne was sacked, accused of stealing. Sharon attempted suicide after being dumped for Sally by Danny Hargreaves but called Ian. He dashed to her side and they realised the still loved each other. Rita was betrayed by yet another woman she regarded as a daughter when Sharon announced she and Ian had secretly married and she was selling the shop to buy a house in Bolton. Fearing what all her hard work would turn into, she was forced to buy it back and told Sharon she never wanted to see her again. She hired Blanche Hunt as her assistant but she drove her to despair and she sacked her after a week. Norris Cole was hired in her place.
In 2000, not only did The Kabin undergo changes at Norris's suggestion to include a Post Office, but Rita, on a quest to trace her family tree, met bookshop owner Anthony Stephens and began an affair with him. She was devastated to find out he had a wife already, but she was in a home suffering Alzheimer's disease. Much to Anthony's daughter's chagrin, Rita and Anthony continued seeing each other. His wife died and he decided to go to New Zealand to visit his sister, asking Rita to go with him. She refused.
Rita decided to go on a 70th birthday drive with Betty, Blanche and Emily in 2002, though wouldn't tell anyone her age. Things were going fine until they stopped to help a broken down driver who turned out to be a robber and held them at gunpoint. Emily, remembering her husband Ernest's death, collapsed in shock. Rita and the pensioners managed to overcome him but got a ticking off from the police. Bet Gilroy also made a reappearance that year. Rita decided to make the first move towards patching up their friendship but it turned sour. Fred hired Lillian Spencer to manage the Rovers. After Norris was banned for wearing a tracksuit while training for his role as a Commonwealth Games official, Rita went to his defence and found herself barred. After Lillian left, Fred had to do a bit of grovelling to get his customers back. Richard Hillman made her an offer she declined eventually to invest some of her money for a high turnover. He wasn't very happy and blamed Norris. But Rita had to grovel herself when Norris's accusations levelled against Richard were proved to be correct.
Rita led a quiet life despite regular arguments with Steve and Karen McDonald over the years, even once being so fed up with them keeping her awake, she resorted to playing loud classical music in revenge. Karen clearly hated her but that all changed after Joe Carter used her and ruined her life. Rita was worried and went to see her. Karen at first was hostile but then warmed to her neighbour as she gave her advice and comforted her. But Karen had made up her mind to leave for good, though they had become friends. Rita was sad to see her leave but accepted her decision. She was delighted when Steve finally tracked his wife down and brought her home.
Things really started to go wrong towards the end of 2003 when kids kept kicking their ball against the garage, were generally abusive and stealing. But before then on New Year's Eve, a promise auction was held in the Rovers to raise money for Friends of Weatherfield Hospital. Norris offered his services by sending out cards in someone's address book for a year so they'd never forget birthday's again. Rita pledged a pound to start the ball rolling when no one bids. She ends up with him for that mere pound. Norris wasn't impressed by her address book listing all the men in it as well as her sending cards to people she hadn't seen for twenty years. Then mid-January, while being dared to steal, Chesney Brown was caught. As Rita grabbed him he tripped, hit his head and went back to Les's. She went to see Les afterwards to check Chesney was all right and explained what happened. Les said she was right and everything was fine.
However, once Chesney's evil mother Cilla had been told of the events, pound signs popped in front of her eyes and she decided to sue Rita. She had already had a run-in with Cilla the day before when Chesney kicked the ball and it smashed one of the shop windows. First Chesney was taken to hospital where he exaggerated his injuries. Cilla, Les and Chesney saw an ambulance-chasing lawyer who informed them the most they were likely to get was £500. Cilla wasn't happy with that and wanted more.
So the police were called and Rita was arrested but given bail. She caused public scenes, making out she was a caring mother while Rita was an evil old woman who took pleasure hitting children. Secretly she would visit Rita offering to drop the charges if she paid her £5000. She considered it until she heard about Chesney saying he was going to Florida. As some of her friends turned against her, she became a reclusive wreck. Audrey and Norris did their best to buck her up but she was too depressed at her spotless reputation being ruined by lies. In court, she was found guilty and ordered to pay £500 costs and £500 compensation. Rita let her temper overtake her at the injustice of it all and Chesney's obvious coaching and was sentenced to one night in the cells for contempt of court.
Cilla suggested Rita pay her £3000 instead and she wouldn't take her to a civil court. Rita told her to get out of the shop and decided to sell up and move away. Norris planned to buy her out but at the last minute Les persuaded Cilla to drop it all and Rita stayed. Things were fairly quiet again despite Norris being convinced the shop was haunted. Rita tried to get him to shut up, but he became more obsessed when Emily informed him Vera Lomax, the daughter of Ena Sharples, died in the vestry when the Glad Tidings Mission stood on the site in the 1960s of a brain tumour. Rita, rather out of character, made a joke about maybe Vera wanted an aspirin. Norris decided to hold a seance in the stock room and Rita, Blanche and Betty attended. Everyone jumped when a box fell off a shelf and Norris accused Rita of trickery. After Mike goes to get his own cigars since they are too scared to go out the back, he tells her there's a funny smell and should get it looked at so she decided to call in Charlie the builder to have a look and mocked Norris when it turned out to be rising damp and the wall cracking. A month later, Blanche managed to wear her down and she agreed to protest about the council's plans to erect a memorial fountain to Alf Roberts. Audrey was none too happy, thinking it a betrayal by Alf's friends, especially Rita who Alf thought so much of. And despite Rita saying it was nothing to do with Alf but it being paid for by council tax rises and put somewhere no one except council works would see it, Audrey was still angry with them but eventually relented.
Towards the end of September, Rita's old friend from her nightclub days, the very glamorous Rula Romanoff, tunred up looking for her in the shop. She and Norris were invited to a fancy restaurant for dinner where they met Rula's husband Bernie. She vehemently denied any goings on with her employee. The following weekend they went to Rula's house. Rita and Rula traded polite insults at the dinner table before singing a duet. Rita and Norris retired to bed while the other guests stayed up a while longer. While she was asleep, Bernie crept into her room and bed. Rita woke up with a scream. Bernie was surprised at her reaction, thinking she knew it was a wife swapping party. Rita was insulted and angry and chased him out of the room by hitting him with a pillow.
When she went to find Norris, she discovered he was in Rula's room. She demanded he got dressed as they were going home. After she pulled up outside Emily's they agreed never to mention it again. Rita was not happy when Norris told her he had been telling people the reason they were home early was because she hadn't been well, but went along with it anyway as they made barbed comments to each other as Rita told Audrey they knew no one else would understand.
In October she finally appeared at a booze-up! She accompanied Mike to Dev and Sunita's sangeet in the Rovers and was not impressed by his, "Women!" remark as Shelley threw Maya out.
On Christmas Eve, Rita spoke openly to Shelley about her mother after Shelley told her she missed hers as she cleared up after closing time. She told Shelley how her mother never touched a drop of alcohol all year then went around kissing everyone on Christmas Day before going around apologising to everyone on Boxing Day. Shelley asked if she fancied a nightcap which she gladly accepted before singing along to, Silent Night on the radio as Steve and Tracy discovered the burning people carrier. The next day she was a guest at Claire and Ashley's wedding. Norris was organist at the last minute when the real one fell ill and to much amusement played Cliff Richard's, Summer Holiday as the bride walked down the aisle. Rita told Emily it was either that or, Devil Woman.
At the Rover's New Year's Eve party, she got really annoyed with Norris after he rattled off a list of everyone famous and customers who died over the past year, which clearly had upset Audrey. He seemed oblivious to the fact he'd upset her even though Rita pointed out it was the anniversary of Alf's death. When he said he'd shut up, Rita told him that was the most sensible thing he'd said all year. Later, Rita settled in the back room with Vera, Betty, Emily and Blanche but felt uncomfortable as they bitched about the Webster's, especially Sally's snobbish behaviour regarding Rosie. They hadn't realised Chesney and Sophie had been under the table and Sophie stormed out. Chesney made the most of things though and, after a sob story about rubbish presents and no Christmas dinner, the elderly ladies gave him £12. By some strange quirk of fate, when midnight arrived, Rita was forced to link hands with the woman who had made her life hell earlier in the year. She couldn't believe Cilla when she casually remarked it had been a funny year so reminded her sarcastically of what she'd done saying it was hysterical. She ignored Cilla when she said about people bearing grudges. After that, she joined the conga led by Ken into the street and stayed to watch the fireworks herald in a new, and hopefully better, year.
Not a lot happened at the beginning of 2005. Norris was boring her about a book he'd discovered, Hard Grinding and knew as soon as he suggested a book club to Ken, Norris would pester her to join. She agreed to before he had the chance, insisting it was over a drink in the Rovers or she wouldn't go. She, along with Norris, Emily and a few others were invited by Blanche to Amy's first birthday party and they all sang old songs, much to the annoyance of Tracy and the youngsters.
Rita's birthday arrived unusually on the 26th February (or 27th, depending on when it was meant to be set). But Blanche gave her a card, saying as she older, Rita would have less birthdays to look forward to, which didn't go down too well. Norris began to annoy her when discussing the book they were all reading for the book club, Hard Grinding and insinuated she was a bit slow just because it was taking her a long time to get through. She told him in no uncertain terms it was all his fault due to the fact before he worked there she used to used curling up with a book for hours but since she doesn't open a book but a bottle of vodka. Norris remarked she'd probably blame him if she became an alcoholic which she ignored and went into the back. Later at the book club, Deirdre brought out a surprise cake and everyone sang, Happy Birthday to her.
May arrived and not a lot had happened during that time until the arrival of Mel Hutchwright, author of, Hard Grinding, at the beginning of the month. He flattered everyone but Ken had misgivings about him. After Norris came up with the idea of the book club paying for his latest book to be published, she reluctantly put her hand up in agreement. But Ken saved the day revealing after they'd handed over the money, Mel Hutchwright was a conman who had gone around other book clubs spinning the same tales and even been in prison. At the end of the month, she was persauded to go to speed dating at the Weatherfield Arms with Blanche and her friend Lena. Norris totally disapproved but went to protect her, which was wasn't too happy about. She wasn't taken with any of the men there and was a bit worried about one who was obsessed with redheads called Rita, after his idol, Rita Hayworth, and did a bad impression of Glenn Ford from, Gilda. However, by towards the end of June, her interest in Norris's novel had become very apparent and she'd taken to peaking at it. Whilst reading out a passage to Emily in the shop, Norris walked in and wasn't happy. She vehemently denied she had taken it from the drawer deliberately. She believed he'd accepted her unconvincing bluff and got a shock when she read more while he was at the wholesalers. She managed to get Emily over to hear the latest but Emily was more concerned the panic was due to Rita having a fall. She tried imparting the latest morsel of the book delicately about how his hero, Naurice, had become involved in a menage a trois with a mild-mannered church-goer called Emilia and a racy titian tempteress called Riba, who also just happened to sing. Emily thought nothing of it until Rita told her she didn't want to know what happened in the meercat enclosure then realised she was Emilia, as she had a teatowel with meercats on. Later in the pub, Norris bought his orange juice and went to them, saying it could be like a threesome, making Rita choke on her drink and worry as he told them a lot of his novel was based on fantasy. Rita went over to see Emily saying he was behaving oddly. She was shocked when Emily told her she'd read more of his novel in which the hero was going to propose to one of them and hoped it wasn't her. She made sure Emly was with her in the shop constantly, hoping he wouldn't get up to any shenanigans with them both about. She pulled out his novel and read the hero was so dejected by the second rejection of his marriage proposal, he took out his old service revolver. Emily said she didn't want him to kill himself. Rita didn't say anything. They tossed for who should accept and Rita lost. When it was quiet, he shut the shop, much to her annoyance, saying what he had to say was more important than mere business. She pointed out it was her mere business. Both Emily and Rita were shocked when he went down on his knees. He proposed to Rita first. Despite saying to Emily she'd say yes, she couldn't bring herself to and turned him down. Emily agreed which took him by surprise while Rita beamed behind him at her lucky escape. In the pub, she'd managed to sneak out his novel and told Emily to read it. They were both not happy when Emily read out the part about getting his own back on two nosy parkers. Norris was like the cat who got the cream and took pleasure in gloating. But when Emily informed him she was looking forward to marriage, Rita looked at her like she'd flipped. She was relieved when Emily admitted she was joking.
The latter-half of August arrived and Rita was furious with Norris as usual. After he drove her potty, she told him she was going upstairs for forty winks. She was furious when he called her selfish by disappearing while he stayed in the shop so she told him she'd be back down in 20 minutes. Nearly two hours later there was still no sign of her and he asked Blanche to hold the fort while he went to the toilet. Upon going upstairs through a door in the back which miraculously appeared overnight, he noticed Rita spark out on the sofa. As he got closer, he thought she was dead and her arm dangled off the arm of the settee when he reached for a pulse. Later she woke up and screamed when she was confronted by Norris, Blanche, Sally and Jack and laughed when she found out they thought she was dead. She then had a horrible thought and asked rather nervously if he'd tried giving her the kiss off life. Back in the shop afterwards, she and Norris had another disagreement, leading him to reassess his life. He wanted a partnership to give him some security and she made it clear it was HER shop and she desperately tried to change the subject. He called told her she didn't care and he was right. The following day he was still going on about leaving and she went along with it. In the pub that lunchtime, she told Mike and Penny about him saying he was going, to which Mike chuckled and said she was lucky. She pointed out he wasn't actually going to leave but was just trying to put the wind up her. She decided to play him at him own game and went on about advertising for his replacement. This took him by surprise so rather than just ask her not to, he tried his own tactics, saying it could be a while before he got a position so she agreed to wait for him to get his new job and advertise while he worked out his two weeks notice. She wrote Norris a reference, which he didn't like because it was too close to the truth, so wrote one of his own which made her and Audrey laugh after he'd left the pub. She kept refusing his suggestion of a partnership and, despite him trying to make out his job offer was more than it was, he'd accidentally left the letter behind which she read then gave him a peace of her mind. Rita was getting increasingly fed up and got as big a shock as Norris when his ex-wife Angela walked in the day after his interview at Ream Team. Despite being insulted Angela called her Renee, she did her best to stop Norris going off for lunch with her but he wouldn't listen. The next day Angela returned, made derogatory remarks about her shop, implied Norris fancied her and went on calling her a geriatric match-girl and told her to take him to her bed as it's what he's pining for. Things became frosty between boss and employee after that until Norris told her in the pub later he didn't have designs on her, much to her relief. Emily stirred things a bit but she rose above it. She offered him a partnership in the shop, stressing it was junior which delighted him. Finally things were back to normal, or so she thought. After sorting out one headache, she developed another when Audrey accused her of having an affair with Alf after finding a really awful superimposed photo in recently developed film which had been discovered in a camera in which Rita was about 10 years younger and Alf's arm looked more like that belonging to a ghost. Everyone should have got their eyes tested with that one. Super Rita with her obvious 20/20 vision compared to everyone else involved, noticed something wasn't quite right about it, just like the viewers, so asked the photographer at Shelley and Charlie's wedding who confirmed her thinking it was a double exposure. So she confronted Audrey in the church, pointing out the line behind was her sideboard which she doesn't take on holiday with her. After Shelley jilted Charlie at the altar and ran out, Norris started to niggle her as they made their way out, with his ideas for the shop until she made it clear he was just a junior partner and told him not to forget it. A month later, Norris annoyed her even more by having their names painted on the shop fascia, his first. Rita grabbed him by the lapels and ordered him to change it. Being impatient, she had it done herself and laughed when he took to measuring the size of the letters to make sure they were equal. Then she went on her cruise at the end of October, glad to escape.
Rita reappeared on the 2nd December with amnesia. She not only told Emily it had been ages since she had dressed up like she did for the Weatherfield Traders Association Christmas do that night, despite the fact she would have every night on the ship, but it wasn't even mentioned she'd been away all those weeks. At the party she got drunk due to the fact Norris had given the impression to people they were more than business partners. While dancing (yes, dancing!), she had a go at him over it and whacked him around the head before pushing him away and continued dancing alone. A few days later, she had her hair done at Audrey's and should have got her money back as it looked no different to when she was at the party. She and Norris also agreed to take Audrey's latest love interest, Keith Appleyard, on as paper boy.
The new year brought heartache to Rita after she foolishly agreed to let Stacey Hilton stay with her after Fred's persuasion at the end of January. She'd already warned he should stay away from the conwoman after his last disasterous meeting with her when she pretended to be Thai and fleeced him. But after she was badly beaten, Fred was who she turned to. Rita eventually warmed to the girl but after they returned home after a few hours in Manchester to find the front door smashed in and the flat wrecked, her upset turned to anger, especially after Stacy refused to tell the police it was Stuart (another she had tried to con) who had beaten her up. Rita's resolve broke when Emily asked how she was and she told her everything, confessing she felt just like she had with Alan, in fear of her life. Despite trying to put a brave face on things and get on with her life, things came to a head when Stuart turned up, locking the shop door and threatening her. When Fred turned up to find the door locked, she shouted out Stuart was there and he put his hand over her mouth. With Nathan's help, Rita was rescued then went into shock, babbling on about shop soiled chocolates and marking them down half price. She continued trying to be brave and make out she was fine, even walking home after an evening with Emily in the pub until Danny appeared from nowhere, taking her by surprise after she dropped her front door keys but she couldn't even face her own bed so got her duvet and cried herself to sleep in front of the television on the sofa. At the book club lunch, she drank more and more during the cooking and meal, telling everyone after Ken suggested a book about an elderly person longing for physical initmacy in no uncertain terms they were all old and could identify with the loneliness. She then appeared to return to normal for a week before going back the way she was. Norris knocked on her front door and they had both clearly forgotten she had an intercom as she called down the stairs, asking who it was. Later, she went looking at a retirement home and Emily suggested she move in with her for a while. Norris took over the flat but kept calling round. She was still lodging with Emily and had recovered remarkably quickly considering her trauma when she heard about the state of Mike Baldwin's health in mid-March. It broke her heart to see him so forgetful and asking how Len is.
April and once again she was tied up wanting to know what Norris was up to. But during the first week she came out of the Rovers and was absolutely stunned as she watched Mike was taken away in an ambulance. She returned to the shop clearly upset and laid into Norris when he made unkind remarks about Mike. The following day, after asking Ken's advice about computers, she came out of the Kabin that evening and saw Mike lying in Ken's arms on the steps on Underworld. She was very upset to learn Mike had died but like everyone else in Weatherfield who had known him all those years, soon got over it.
Life continued in the thrilling company of Emily while Norris took up Internet dating after nagging her to get a computer for the shop. Rita persuaded Ken to help her set up a fake date for Norris then went along to meet him. She felt bad about it but they came to an understanding. During a wander around her flat, she ended up hiding in a cupboard which had mysteriously appeared on the landing as Norris brought a date back. He was furious to find her there but they agreed to move back to their respective homes.
In October former would-be flame Fred Elliott died at Audrey's house on the day of his wedding. Rita was furious Audrey had caused Bev Unwin so much pain, reminded of when she discovered Len's affair, and gave her a piece of her mind. Rita had also won a weekend for two to Budapest and Norris was her unfortunate travelling companion after stupid arguments over who gets free pens and enters competitons. He returned telling everyone she had a fall and was in hospital recovering from DVT. When she returned after four weeks she was furious with him as it turned out he caused her fall at breakfast in the hotel dining room by diving for a bread roll and for someone using a stick and barely able to walk, not only chased him out the shop but a couple of days later was fully recovered with no blood thinning drugs at all.
Another year and another Internet/old friend from her club days storyline at the start of February. Norris had joined Classmates Reunited, an obvious plug of 'Friends Reunited' which ITV owns, and Rita was prompted to look for her old dance troupe. Doreen Fenwick turned up looking for her but came across Norris instead, later finding her in the street. Norris's nose was put well and truly out of joint as Rita ended up boozing all night and not turning up for work. Towards the end of March Doreen had moved bags and baggage in with Rita in a repeat of when Rita lived with Emily. Doreen led her off the straight and narrow in some ridiculous boozing storylines because clearly they can't think of anything better to do with Rita. After a couple of months, Rita had had enough and phoned the council, pretending to be Doreen, to find out when the flat would be ready. She was not amused to find it was ready all along so after confronting her, was glad when Doreen packed her bags. Unfortunately Norris became peacemaker and got them friends again meaning we were stuck with boring Doreen even longer.
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