‘Coronation Street’ viewers were moved to tears during Wednesday night’s (30 August) show after Rita Tanner appeared to forget that her late husband Len Fairclough had died.
In recent weeks, fans have watched as Rita becomes increasingly more forgetful and erratic, with things taking a turn in the most recent instalment, after she was seen setting a place at her dinner table for Ray, despite the fact that he died in a motorway accident in 1983.
During the scene, Rita - played by 83-year-old ‘Corrie’ veteran Barbara Knox - commented to neighbour Gemma Winter that the Len would be “home in a minute”, commenting: “He’ll have something to say about those chops, they’re too fatty!”
The scene sparked an emotional response from viewers, many of whom took to Twitter to reveal their sadness at seeing Rita’s memory deteriorate, particularly in light of the fact that recent reports have suggested the character could be killed off as part of an upcoming brain tumour storyline.
Some fans have even started the Twitter campaign #SaveRita, in a bid for producers to keep the beloved character on the cobbles for as long as possible, rather than killing her off as was previously claimed.
Over the weekend, an insider was quoted as telling The Sun, of Rita’s future storyline: “She will be diagnosed with a tumour and her doctors will say there is a serious risk she will die if they don’t remove it.
“But Rita is terrified that she could not know who she is, or recognise her friends.
“All the indications are that this will end tragically.”
Actress Barbara Knox, 83, made her first appearance as Rita during one episode in 1964, before being made a permanent cast member in 1972.
During her time on the cobbles, Rita has been part of some huge storylines, the most famous being her escape from abusive partner Alan Bradley, who was hit by a Blackpool tram 1989.