(This post was originally posted by Graeme N on the Coronation Street Blog in June 2014.)
I love our Rita. Always have and always will. However, I've been watching a lot of cracking old 1970s episodes of late and it's made me wonder whether the Rita Tanner of 2014 needs to give it a bit more welly.
Yes I know she is no longer in the first flush of youth and one of the joys of Corrie is watching long term characters progress and mature over the years, but I do love the sassy, quick tempered, quick-witted Rita Littlewood as was.
Her scenes with Len Fairclough were often fiery, her interactions with Elsie Tanner often bitchy and camp and her Kabin scenes with wittering Mavis are stuff of Coronation Street legend. I vividly recall one scene where Mavis kept stuttering on some recent bit of news and Rita's reply was "Watch it love, your needle's stuck". Brilliant!
I love Rita's continuing presence in Corrie as it provides some much needed continuity with the past. What I don't like so much are some of the recent directions the character has been taken in.
I thought it was a wonderful decision to bring Dennis Tanner back after more than forty years. Philip Lowrie is a terrific actor, Dennis a super character and another cherished link to the Coronation Street of 1960. Doing nothing with the character other than ruining him and turning Rita shrewish was not only a bad move but almost unforgivable. I thought I would like Rita married again but I don't. It now just seems like a shallow attempt at a wallow in the past without actually exploring the rich history involved.
Also, Rita's closeness to Tina did her no favours. The writers would have done better by the character to focus on her relationships with not only Dennis but Norris too. They are a brilliant double act, not quite Rita and Mavis, but wonderful all the same. It's also been ages since Rita has interacted properly with other characters of her generation like Audrey, Deirdre or Gail. They are always a delight when sharing scenes.
I know people get older and mellow over time and Corrie should reflect this. I just yearn for the Rita of old - knocking out bolshy hecklers in t'Gatsby; battling with Len for a few home comforts; taking Elsie on, shoulder pad to shoulder pad; tearing across the Blackpool seafront, gold lame mac flying...that's the Rita I know and love.
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