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Coronation Street

Up to date as of January 31, 2010

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Dennis Tanner
Occupation Salesman
Born 1st April 1942
Birthplace Weatherfield
Residence Bristol
Father Arnold Tanner
Mother Elsie Tanner
Sibling(s) Linda Cheveski
Spouse(s) Jenny Sutton (1968)
First appearance 9th December 1960
Last appearance 12th June 1968
Duration 1960-1962, 1963-1968
Played by Philip Lowrie

Dennis Tanner was the troublesome son of Elsie Tanner. He lived at 11 Coronation Street on and off between 1942 and 1968. The black sheep of the Tanner family, Dennis considered himself a bit of a showman, and made a name for himself as a talent scout. His real talent however was in messing up every job he had.

After a few years of working in clubs, Dennis quit the business to train as a hairdresser. He flitted from job to job until he married Jenny Sutton in 1968 and moved with her to Bristol.



Dennis Tanner was born on 1st April 1942 as part of the Tanner family. His parents were Elsie and Arnold, and her had an older sister, Linda. The family lived at 11 Coronation Street, Weatherfield, such as it was; Arnold and Elsie separated in 1945 and Arnold didn’t contact Elsie again until 1961. Dennis grew up without a father figure and was frequently in trouble, living by his own rules and even spending time in a borstal in 1960 because of petty theft.

After he returned home, he spent more time moping around the house than looking for a job, however unlikely it was that anyone would employ him. When he won £25 at the dogs, people were quicker to believe he had stolen the money. Elsie was relieved when neighbour Harry Hewitt confirmed Dennis’s account, having seen him win the money.


Orinoco club

Dennis found work at the auditorium of the Orinoco Club in December. He liked the job, and was intrigued by the world of showbusiness. He briefly dated one of the club’s acts, Eunice Bond, but when he took her home Elsie was unwelcoming. Dennis told Elsie that he was embarrassed to bring girls home and Elsie was a hypocrite as she had had more than her fair share of boyfriends over the years.

He moved up in the world when he was required to sing at the club, and was popular with the patrons. It became a regular thing and he continued under the stage name Ricky Dennis. He was hopeful that talent agent Lenny Phillips would sign him up, but just as it seemed to be happening he was instead asked by Lenny to work for him as a talent scout. Dennis eagerly accepted that and the position of Assistant Manager at the Orinoco, putting aside his singing as Lenny told him he was actually not very good.

In 1962, Dennis left Weatherfield for London with Lenny to open an office there. He liked the city and decided to stay for a while.

Return from London

Mavis Fox is only interested in Dennis when he says he is rich

1963 saw Dennis return and move back in with Elsie, but not before he opened the door to bailiffs who took Elsie’s furniture. He was quiet about his antics in London but when Mavis Fox arrived looking for a Dennis Tanner who lived in a detached house in Coronation Street. Upper-class Mavis had been duped by Dennis into thinking he was from a wealthy family, and he tried to keep up the pretence by claiming that his gran lived in Coronation Street and Elsie was the maid. The truth ended the relationship.

Still working for Lenny Phillips, Dennis was always on the lookout for new talent. He was ecstatic when he met window cleaner Walter Potts who was a great singer. Walter agreed to hire Dennis to find him gigs. Walter’s career was just starting to take off when Lenny’s partner Laurie Frazer showed up and put Dennis under pressure for not signing up Walter officially, only on gentleman’s agreement – Walter had since signed a three-year contract with a London agency, invalidating his agreement with Dennis.

Ironically he kept his job through that only to lose it for not opening the office over Christmas.

Career changes

To the residents’ surprise, Dennis went back to square one when he got a new job in the loading bay at Amalgamated Steel. It was a physical job he wasn’t suited to and he didn’t get along with his workmates. Without a care, he took the blame for damaged stock so he would be sacked.

Next up was a job at the Viaduct Street Social Club, which he had to thank Elsie for as she was dating Laurie Frazer who was managing it. Surprisingly, he packed it in after only a few months to take his career in a new direction – hairdressing. He had to take a course first, unpaid, and to fund him while he was studying Elsie secretly took a job posing for art students. When Dennis found out, he was prepared to drop out, but Elsie convinced him to continue. In October, he passed his exams and was contracted to work at the posh Gerald’s Salon.

Dennis never thought he would be the one to be dumped when he was with Sandra Petty

When Dennis received a love letter from Sandra Petty, who was quite in love with him and adamant that they would marry, he wasn’t even keen on going out with her. To his horror, her dad Lionel Petty bought the Corner Shop. Eventually Dennis decided that it was too much work to avoid her and he dated her, as at least he could use the Corner Shop stockroom to keep bulk items he intended to sell.

In 1965, Dennis wanted to work somewhere else, but found out his was a private diploma that only allowed him to cut hair at Gerald’s. He still left his job, despite the job security it had brought. He worked at the shop for a while before leaving to work as a salesman for the Children’s Novelty Toy Company. He liked the line of work but was a bit embarrassed by the company.

Sandra was starting to notice Dennis was taking her for granted, and wasn’t happy when he asked her to store 144 boxes of crackers in the loft at Gamma Garments, where she worked. She refused to help him when he was lumbered with 108 Christmas trees, and told him he was selfish and just using her. Dennis wasn’t too bothered about Sandra, he was more concerned about how to sell the trees. Fortunately, he didn’t live next to Sandra much longer as Lionel sold the shop and moved they moved away.

In 1966, Dennis met his old friend Jed Stone again, and the pair opened an auction room. He was getting depressed as he was starting to think his job wasn’t for him – he started skipping work and was sacked after two weeks.

Deciding to get back into showbusiness, Dennis took a job as entertainments manager at a holiday camp in Carlisle, moving out of No.11 again to live close to work.


Dennis came back to the street in June, or rather escaped back as some thugs were after him as he owed the £94. Elsie found Dennis a job at the betting shop in Rosamund Street, but he had to force himself to go as the thugs had found out where he lived – he was afraid for his life. True to form, they caught up with him, but Len Fairclough, an admirer of Elsie, paid them off and gave Dennis a job at the builder’s yard to pay off the debt.

With few job prospects, Dennis stayed on for a while after paying off the debt but knew his time was up when he accidentally set Len’s house on fire while decorating it – before Len could find out and sack him, Dennis accepted a job offer by Emily Nugent to work at Gamma Garments, managing the men’s section, where he worked with Emily and Lucille Hewitt.

In 1967, Dennis taught Swede Inga Olsen and dated her. They were caught in Gamma Garments late at night by Emily and the owner Mr Papagopolous. He would have been sacked anyway, so he resigned so Emily wouldn’t have the burden of firing him. Keen on Inga, he went to Sweden with her, returning a month later not with Inga, but her sister Karen, who he signed off as his au pair, claiming to be Steve Tanner (the real Steve Tanner was Elsie’s fiancé). The affair ended when a Swedish official visited Weatherfield to check on Karen and discovered the deception. Karen was sent elsewhere.

Dennis went through a few more jobs but never stayed anywhere for long. When Elsie married Steve, the newlyweds moved and Dennis took in some circus performers as lodgers, which horrified the neighbours. Elsie wasn’t shocked that Dennis was up to his usual tricks and was fine with it as long as the bills were paid and the house stayed in one piece. Eventually Dennis got rid of the lodgers but couldn’t even manage the cooking on his own and relied on the neighbours to help him out.

Jenny Sutton

The Tanners reunited at No.11 to spend Christmas together before Elsie and Steve emigrated to the United States of America, even Linda and her husband Ivan Cheveski. When Dennis was left alone again, a party at No.11 went out of hand when the party-goers – hippies – decided to squat there. The neighbours complained to the landlord who wanted everybody out, including Dennis. With his family all gone, Dennis decided there was nothing left in the street for him and didn’t fight the eviction.

He took a shine to one of the hippies, Jenny Sutton, and got her a job at the hotel where he worked as a waiter. Jenny was impressed when Dennis blackmailed his boss who had groped her. Hoping for romance, Dennis followed her to London when she left Weatherfield abruptly.

Dennis weds Jenny Sutton

Later in 1968, with Elsie’s marriage to Steve in tatters, Elsie was back at No.11 and Dennis returned with Jenny in tow, claiming to have married her. He was lying, so that Elsie wouldn’t object to him sleeping with Jenny, but Elsie knew him too well and knew it was a lie. She didn’t take to Jenny at first but became more supportive when they announced they actually were going to get married.

Dennis got a job as a salesman again, selling hairdressing toiletries. He was shocked after planning the wedding to be asked to be in Bristol for a work meeting on his wedding night. His boss was impressed by his apparent dedication to the firm and offered him the position of area manager in Bristol. The Tanners moved to Bristol for a new life.

Unfortunately, Dennis’s luck wasn’t to last. By 1973, Jenny had left him and Dennis was in prison for his part in a double-glazing scam targeted at pensioners. Elsie stayed in Weatherfield until 1984, but Dennis never visited.


Camp and charismatic, Dennis lived life on the edge, charming his way through his problems, even though things rarely went his way. He lived life by his own rules, and was difficult to trust as he would be dishonest if it suited his interests to do so. He was also impulsive and self-assured, an attitude that caused great distress to his mother Elsie, who greeted his latest escapades with trepidation.

Hobbies and interests

Dennis tried his hand at everything while he lived in the street, but tended to move quickly onto new interests. He briefly played the guitar, but gave it up in favour of singing, which he also gave up.

Other information

  • Dennis was godfather to nephew Paul Cheveski, born 1961.
  • Jerry Booth asked Dennis to be best man at his wedding in 1963. In 1968, Jerry was best man at Dennis's wedding.
  • In late 1961, Dennis was accused of stealing from the Rovers Return till by landlady Annie Walker. Elsie leaped to Dennis’s defense, and told Annie that the Tanners were withdrawing their custom. Dennis was happy to be vindicated but surprised that the neighbours had all backed him for the first time ever.

Background information

  • Dennis was one of the original characters of Coronation Street. He was originally concieved as a petty criminal but this part of his character was quickly downplayed in favour of more comedy storylines involving Dennis's fledgling career in showbusiness, to make use of actor Philip Lowrie's comedic talents.
  • Due to the Equity actors' strike, Lowrie could not renew his contract when it expired in early 1962. After his appearance in Episode 129 (7th March 1962), the character did not appear again until Episode 244 (15th April 1963), when the actor signed a new contract (the strike ended on 3rd April 1962). The character's absence was explained as Dennis is said to be in London during this period.


"Where's what?" (First line)

See also

External links

  • Dennis Tanner at
Original characters
Ken Barlow | Frank Barlow | Ida Barlow | David Barlow | Jack Walker | Annie Walker | Elsie Tanner | Dennis Tanner | Linda Cheveski | Ivan Cheveski | Harry Hewitt | Lucille Hewitt | Concepta Riley | Ena Sharples | Minnie Caldwell | Martha Longhurst | Albert Tatlock | Christine Hardman | Florrie Lindley | Esther Hayes | Leonard Swindley

This article uses material from the "Dennis Tanner" article on the Coronation Street wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.


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