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What is it about me and trams? CORRIE RITA: HER MOST SHOCKING STORYLINES.

Byline: AMY SHARPE

RITA'S Weatherfield rollercoaster has taken her on highs of romance and glamour to terrible lows and umpteen brushes with death.

She feared she had met her maker not once, twice, but three times - including TWO run-ins with trams.

Her reputation as someone not to be messed with goes right back to 1972 when Rita, then a nightclub singer, became a regular in the Street.

While belting out Big Spender, she stroked a fella in the audience suggestively - and the man's wife called her a "brass-faced b*tch".

Fiery Rita responded by daring her to repeat the insult - before slapping her in the face to start a catfight.

Little did TV fans realise they were watching the arrival of one of soap's greatest characters, played superbly by Barbara Knox.

Her most memorable storyline, of course, surrounded her relationship with violent Alan Bradley in 1989.

The love-cheat, played by Mark Arden, moved in with newsagent Rita and then secretly remortgaged her home to start Weatherfield Security Systems. He later tried to rape Dawn Prescott, his receptionist.

Dawn told Rita, who confronted Bradley.

He turned on her and tried to smother her with a pillow.

Rita was only saved by the arrival of Martin Platt and Bradley's daughter Jenny.

The warped bully was spared jail by a court. He then set up a building site opposite Rita's home and began tormenting her.

DODGED

Desperate Rita fled to Blackpool to escape him but obsessed Bradley tracked her down and forced her into his car.

When she saw a chance she leapt from the car and ran, with her captor hot on her heels. She dodged a passing tram but Bradley ran into it and was killed.

The episode in December 1989 was watched by 27 million, making it one of the most iconic scenes in the show's history.

In September 1993, Rita faced yet more betrayal. She was delighted when foster daughter Jenny turned up on the scene after years away. But Rita soon realised Jenny only wanted her cash. She gave her PS1,000 and told her she never wanted to see her again.

Jenny would, of course, return years later and is back in the soap as one of its main characters, played by Sally Ann Matthews.

Rita had her second brush with death in 1998, days after absent-minded Steve McDonald installed a faulty gas fire in her flat. She was saved in the nick of time by Alec Gilroy, who went looking for her when she did not turn up at the Rovers as arranged.

It wasn't a good year. Months later bighearted Rita took in Stacey Hilton, who posed as Thai bride Orchid in a bid to fleece Fred Elliott. But one of Stacey's exes traced her to Rita's home and trashed the place. Fearing for her safety, Rita moved out.

Unlucky Rita was, incredibly, embroiled in a second tram crash in December 2010.

She was left unconscious after an explosion at The Joinery caused a tram to smash into the bar, the Corner Shop and The Kabin.

While four characters were killed off in the episode - which attracted over 14 million viewers - Rita survived. And she would utter one of the soap's most memorable lines, declaring: "What is it about me and trams?"

Two years on, in June 2012, Rita faced peril once more - on the day of her wedding to third husband Dennis Tanner. She was kidnapped by loan shark Rick Neelan, who threatened to drive her into the canal unless her close pal Tina McIntyre - actress Michelle Keegan - returned his drug stash.

STITCHES

Tina did, Rita was freed, Neelan was nailed and the bride-to-be was escorted to her wedding in a police car.

It could only happen in soapland, of course. And actress Barbara has excelled in every single scene - be it romance or tragedy.

Her comedy double act with Norris had fans in stitches for years. Just a few months ago viewers delighted in watching Rita get sozzled with Jenny and kebab shop worker Gemma Winter in another Corrie classic.

Rita donned a hat, tried her first doner kebab and danced to Beyonce's Run the World in scenes described as "hilarious" by fans on social media.

CAPTION(S):

STREET FIGHT Rita hits out in club after insult from a punter's wife in 1972 clip

peril Loan rat grips Rita as Tina holds drugs in 2012 plot

doner goner Tipsy Rita in kebab shop classic this year
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Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Sep 3, 2017
Words:743
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