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ALMA TO DIE; Corrie veteran to be told she has cancer.

Byline: BRIAN ROBERTS

CORONATION Street favourite Alma Halliwell will make a heartbreaking exit from the soap after being told she has terminal cancer.

Actress Amanda Barrie, 65, asked to leave the series last November after 20 years and scriptwriters have promised a sensational storyline to mark her demise.

A source said last night: "We have certainly kept our word, and we believe Alma's sad death has every ingredient to make it one of the all-time Coronation Street greats."

Alma will discover she has advanced cervical cancer which has spread to other organs.

She receives the bombshell news just as she decides to leave Weatherfield to start a new life with security guard Frank O'Connor - Eamon Boland.

They have become close after the Freshco supermarket siege last October.

There will be an emotional moment as Alma tells her best friend Audrey Roberts - Sue Nicholls - about her condition.

Our insider said: "The scenes will call on some tremendous performances from Amanda and she is thrilled at what we have planned for Alma.

"We can guarantee there will be buckets of tears both on screen and back home for the viewers."

Frank and Alma will be seen taking a romantic walk in the countryside next month before she cooks him a special Sunday lunch.

At one stage they give each a lingering kiss and decide they are fed up with inner city life.

The rape of barmaid Toyah Battersby - Georgia Taylor - has particularly sickened them.

The source said: "Alma agrees to go and live with Frank. They decide to make a new start together somewhere in the country and begin excitedly telling their plans to people back home.

"Alma has had her fair share of ups and downs with men in the past and she sees Frank a dependable chap to see out her days with.

"There's even a surprise farewell party planned at the Rovers. But just as it looks as if they are off into the wide blue yonder the devastating news hits Alma."

After confiding in Audrey, the friends together try to come to terms with the gravity of the situation. Audrey advises her not to leave Weatherfield but to die amongst her friends.

Our source said: "Alma is wrestling with her innermost thoughts about what to do for the best. She is agonising about starting a new life away from Weatherfield with Frank.

"But it is Audrey who tells her that she should stay amongst her friends who will be able to nurse her when the time comes.

"After a lot of hard thinking Alma realises that she will be better off staying with the people who have known and loved her.

"So she makes the emotional decision to remain with her friends until she dies.

"We have had some tear-jerking episodes in the past, and Alma's farewell will have to rank as one of the most sorrowful in Corrie's history."

Amanda, who joined Corrie in 1981 for a two week appearance as Alma Sedgewick, became a regular in 1989.

Scriptwriters involved her character in many memorable plotlines. Cafe owner Alma married Mike Baldwin - Johnny Briggs - in 1992 but he dumped her for factory girl Linda Sykes.

She had a fling with Ken Barlow - William Roache - in 1994 and also survived a bid by cabbie Don Brennan - Geoff Hinsliff - to kill her.

Announcing last year that she wanted to leave, Amanda said: "I thought it was time I bowed out in the hope that there's one more show in me. I've had a happy time and feel blessed and proud to have been in the show."

CAPTION(S):

1981: Alma in her debut with Elsie Tanner; 1992: Marriage to Mike Baldwin is doomed; 1994: She has a fling with teacher Ken Barlow; 1997: She is attacked by cabbie Don Brennan
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Apr 7, 2001
Words:631
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