As fans of Coronation Street will know, when Rita Sullivan marries Dennis Tanner on Monday 4th June, as is obligatory for a soapy wedding, things will run far from smoothly…
With the biggest bridal drama being the fact that evil Rick Whelan (Greg Wood) holds Rita hostage in order to force Tina McIntyre (Michelle Keegan) to hand over his stash of cocaine.
You can read more about that here, but in the meantime, Barbara Knox, who of course plays bride-to-be Rita has been talking to the show’s official website about playing The Kabin owner, and of her finally being united with Dennis – who’s played by Phillip Lowrie – who Rita first had a relationship with back in the sixties.
Of working with Phillip again, who of course returned to the show in 2011, Barbara said, “It was like coming home. It’s amazing that the story brings these two together and it works…
“Here they are getting married which is wonderful. I’m happy to be Mrs Dennis Tanner and I love working with Philip. He’s a gentleman.
“That first day filming after all those years was incredible. To think I’d not seen him for all that time; it was like coming home.”
Barbara then went on to reveal that she vividly remembers her first scenes as Rita.
She said, “I only came in to do two episodes in 1964. Rita was going to sing in a club and went looking for digs in The Rovers.
“Then Dennis, a cheeky young man who was the manager of The Rovers, came in and I persuaded him to let me stay at his mother’s place.
“I slept in Elsie’s bed because she was on holiday for a week. Back then the show was full of marvellous people…
“Ena, Elsie, Martha and, my favourite, Doris Speed who played Annie Walker. I remember that on the first tech run, where everyone comes up to watch, I was so terrified that I lost my voice.
“It was through sheer nerves. To see Elsie Tanner and Ena Sharples, they were like gods to me, but they were all lovely and after a while, when I’d relaxed a bit, my voice came back. But that’s how frightened I was.”
Barbara was then asked which of her storylines on the soap have stood out for her, to which she replied, “When Len Fairclough died [and] Rita had been singing in The Rovers.
“When she heard the news I started to weep and weep and, in the next episode, I was still there. That seemed to have a great effect on people.
“When my father died my mother never moved. She just stayed in the same clothes and wept all night.”
She added, “I also enjoyed working with Mark Eden (who played Rita’s evil lover Alan Bradley).
“Nowadays you have to have stunt doubles and stand-ins but back then we didn’t. We’d just work it out between the two of us.
“I remember one time he had to knock me over a sofa!”
Next, of the storyline which sees Rita and Dennis getting married, which is of course one of the major plotlines that was timed to coincide with the Queen’s Golden Jubilee celebrations, Barbara said, “It was a huge honour. It is unbelievable. I never in my wildest dream thought this would happen.
“It makes me weep. It’s a great honour and overwhelming really.”
And apropos of the Queen, Barbara of course met her when she received an MBE, and she apparently told Her Maj that she should watch the famous tram crash footage…
Barbara revealed that she said, “Now, if you’ve got a minute on the 10th (Dec 2010), it’s wonderful.”
Indeed it was!
To see more about Corrie’s Queens of the Street – which lists Rita among the venerable ladies – click here, and of course, don’t miss all the drama of the forthcoming bank holiday episodes.