Thursday, 24 September 2009

Worst Story-Lines... The 1980s... Rita's Amnesia, Alan Bradley And A Blackpool Tram...

The Rita Fairclough/Alan Bradley/tram story-line of 1989 prompted some folk to write in more recent years that Rita's amnesia had taken her back to the time before she married Len, because of her use of the name "Littlewood" on her singing engagement in Blackpool. Rubbish! Rita ALWAYS sang under her maiden name, which was also her stage name, even AFTER she married Len. During the 1989 story-line, her mind had actually retreated to an unstated time during her marriage to Len (1977-1983). She referred to Len being at home because of a heavy work load, asked Bet Gilroy how he was coping without her, said he was joining her at the weekend, and then stated, studying the hotel's breakfast menu: "I know what Len'd have: kippers. You know, he never can resist 'em and I never get them for him. Can't stand the smell of 'em." Before Rita married Len, she wasn't in the habit of planning or cooking his breakfasts! Another fact is that a close up view of the hotel register, shown as Alan Bradley searches for Rita, reveals that Rita had signed herself in as Rita Fairclough. She was in Room 14, by the way!

"Cecil" has written to ask me what are my worst story-lines of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s...


I'm not a great fan of the early '70s Street at all and I don't know all the ins-and-outs of the 1960s. I'll have to think about that.

But as for the 1980s...

I think Rita's 1989 amnesia story-line stank to high heaven.

The OTT '80s played host to a variety of soaps: in one corner we had the "Thatcher's killing everything good" stance of some of our homegrown soaps, in the other, the preposterously rich fashions and ludicrous story-lines of the American soaps - remember when the 1986 season of Dallas turned out to be a dream? Remember when Fallon was taken away by a flying saucer in The Colbys in 1987?

And then, in 1989, a gritty story-line involving Rita Fairclough took a Dynasty-style turn to the bizarre, and I was worried for good old down-to-earth Corrie's future.

Rita and Len Fairclough had fought tooth and nail over her desire to continue her singing career as Rita Littlewood on an occasional basis. Rita won, of course. In 1980, Len and Rita almost split up - Len actually struck her - and Rita fled to Blackpool.

They were reconciled and enjoyed a few very happy years, until Len's death in late 1983.

In 1989, with a certain Alan Bradley exerting something of a reign of terror over her, Rita fled to Blackpool again.

Only this time she had amnesia.

Rita thought she'd left Len at home with a heavy workload whilst she was on a singing engagement in Blackpool.

When Bet and Alec Gilroy tracked her down, Rita had no idea that these two old acquaintances of hers were married, and was worried about how Len was coping at home without her. Still, she was going to make it up to him - he was coming to Blackpool at the weekend.

"She's shut everything out of her mind since before Len died," said Alec.

Rita couldn't stand the smell of kippers, but the whole story-line smelt distinctly fishy to me. Amnesia seemed so outlandish as part of a Corrie plot. And it was a trusted standby of the loopy American soaps.

And with Corrie having recently gone three days a week at the time, I thought the quality was starting to suffer.

Finally, Rita was shocked out of 1982 - or wherever she was living (no specific year was given) when she was confronted by Alan Bradley, who tried to drag her into his car to take her back to Weatherfield.

And then, of course, he was hit by a tram.

Some friends of mine tell me that this story-line was one of Corrie's best. But I'm not convinced.

There was something about it that brought to my mind Krystle Carrington of Dynasty.

And the harrowing time Fallon was believed dead in Dynasty and then turned up, minus her memory, calling herself "Randall Adams" in The Colbys.

Mind you, compared to some of the things that have happened in Corrie since, Rita's 1989 skirmish with amnesia seems as down-to-earth as an entire episode devoted to Hilda Ogden's washing day!


  1. I'm with you on this one, Andy. The Alan/Rita storyline had been a bit of a slow burner throughout 1989 and was - for the most part - very enjoyable.

    But they blew the long-awaited climax. The amnesia aspect was simply laughable and the final scene was the last sraw.

    Watch it carefully and you'll see the Alan Bradley stunt double jumping INTO the front of the tram in that specially-trained sort of way. Rita's double was also pretty poor... THAT WIG!!! Aargh.

  2. I just winged out when Rita thought she was still married to Len!

    I agree that the story-line had been pretty darned good up to then.

    Lovely to hear from you, Sky!