|Born||25th February 1932|
|Residence||10a Coronation Street|
|Spouse(s)||Harry Bates (1954)
Len Fairclough (1977)
Ted Sullivan (1992)
|First appearance||2nd December 1964|
|Duration||1964, 1972 to present|
|Played by||Barbara Knox|
A former nightclub singer, Rita Littlewood was the common-law wife of Harry Bates but left him in 1972 and started an on-off relationship with builder Len Fairclough. Len's reluctance to commit to Rita was an obstacle in their relationship but after a broken engagement they married in 1977, living together at 9 Coronation Street. Although their marriage had many ups and downs, Rita was devastated when Len died in a motorway accident in 1983, with Rita learning after his death that he had been cheating on her.
In the 1980s Rita and Len became foster parents, and Rita continued to foster children after Len's death. When she was asked to look after Jenny Bradley, Rita met Jenny's dad Alan and began a relationship with him that nearly cost Rita her life - thuggish Alan secretly remortaged Rita's house to raise money for a business, and assaulted Rita when she found out and confronted him. Alan met his end in Blackpool after being hit by a tram while chasing Rita.
Rita married for a second time in 1992 to Ted Sullivan, although he died from a brain tumour only three months after they wed. Although she has never married since, Rita has had relationships with her former manager Alec Gilroy and Colin Grimshaw, who she became engaged to but broke it off when she found out that Colin had slept with 14-year-old Paula Carp years before.
Rita's pride and joy has always been The Kabin. From 1973 to 2009, Rita ran the newsagent, working first with Mavis Riley as assistant, establishing a life-long friendship, and later Norris Cole, who bought half of the shop from Rita in 2006 and the rest in 2009, when Rita sold her remaining share after deciding to retire. Rita is currently on a three-month cruise, enjoying her retirement.
Barbara Knox (or Mullaney as she was then known) made her first appearance in Coronation Street in November 1964 as an exotic dancer. A friend of Dennis Tanner, it was a one-off appearance. She returned in 1972 and has appeared consistently since then, maturing from saucy songstress to respected elder and local businesswoman.
On her return in 1972 as Rita Bates, married to Harry Bates, with a 12-year-old son Terry. Terry was a pupil at Bessie Street School, where Ken Barlow was teaching. Rita made it obvious she was attracted to Ken, and it came to the attention of the headmaster, who told Ken to cool the relationship. And we soon saw Ken with Rita, by this time had started dating and begun a relationship with Len Fairclough. But when he discovered that Rita wasn't married and that Terry wasn't her son, he soon cooled the relationship. Ken was told to end their relationship as she was a married woman.
It was several month later, after Rita had left the Street, that Len, out for a night with Elsie and Alan Howard, saw Rita singing in a nightclub. This was the start of an on-off relationship which was to accumulate into a stormy eleven year relationship. In 1973, Len bought The Kabin, and installed Rita as manageress with the offer of the flat above it.
Len was none too pleased when he found out she was married. When her marriage ended in violence, Rita leaned on Len and took a job singing in a nightclub. Len soon helped her set up a shop, The Kabin. Fiery Rita and stubborn Len faced a number of obstacles as well as breakups and makeups before finally marrying on 20th April 1977 after a five year on-off relationship. They'd already had one engagement, but broke it off. But this time Rita was going out of Len's life for six months on a singing contract to Tenerife. A going away party was arranged for Rita. Len took her to the airport, but she never boarded the plane, and several weeks later they were married by special licence. In 1981, they were unable to adopt, due to their age, being too old, but for some time after much deliberation, took in a foster child, Sharon Gaskell. In December 1983, Len was killed in a car accident while the Street were celebrating the fortieth wedding anniversary of Hilda and Stan Ogden. Rita was devastated to learn he'd been having an affair.
As well as her two marriages, Rita has had three serious relationships, one with the violent Alan Bradley.
In 1986, Rita took up fostering again, when Jenny Bradley, one of her paper girls lost her mother Pat in a road accident. She also met Jenny's missing father of eight years, Alan, who Jenny tried to reconcilate with.
Alan and Rita started a relationship, but Rita was unaware that Alan Bradley was also seeing Gloria Todd, a Rovers barmaid. She eventually found out about their affair and gave Alan an ultimatum. Alan chose Gloria, but Gloria changed her mind and ended their affair.
Alan and Rita eventually settled down to a peaceful relationship. Rita asked him to move into No.7 with her, after refusing his offer of marriage. In February 1989 Alan stole the deeds of Rita's house in the name of her deceased husband, Len. He remorgaged it for £15,000, and set up a security firm. There he started Dawn Prescott as a receptionist, but things began to go downhill when he tried to rape her. Dawn told Rita about the attack and about the letters that arrived in Len's name to the workplace. Rita confronted him on the night of Jenny's 18th birthday party.
When Rita discovered the fraud, Alan was furious when Rita told him she'd informed the building society about him and he tried to kill her by suffocating her with a cushion at their home; No.7. She was saved by the return of Jenny and Martin Platt, who were concerned when she wasn't answering the phone. Alan went on the run, but was captured some weeks later. The first ever episode of Corontion Street shown on a Friday was the trial of Alan Bradley, at the end of which he walked free.
He started working on a building site opposite No.7 and began to stalk Rita, until eventually she had a breakdown and disappeared. Police suspected Alan had murdered Rita, and the site was dug up. Meanwhile The Gilroy's found Rita singing in a nightspot in Blackpool, where she had escaped to, but when Alan got wind of it, and tracked Rita down, and had followed her there, and attempted to take her back to Weatherfield, once Rita was in the car, Alan made his way round to the Driver's side, in which time Rita jumped out and ran across the street. Alan gave chase resulting in him being ran over by a tram in one of the most gripping storylines ever.
Rita met her second husband, Ted Sullivan at the Kabin; he was a sales rep for a firm of sweet manufacturers. Shortly before their marriage, Ted confessed that he was dying of a brain tumour. He died peacefully a few months later, sitting on a bench, watching a bowls game. Rita then abandoned plans to retire abroad, and decided to stay in the Street.
After several years in mourning, Rita became involved with Alec Gilroy, an old friend who had been her manager in her career as a night club cabaret singer, before her first marriage.
In July 1998 Rita collapsed in her flat from carbon monoxide poisoning due to a faulty gas fire that Steve McDonald had installed a few days before. Luckily she was saved in the nick of time by Alec who was worried about her not turning up at the Rovers when she was supposed to. Things took an unexpected turn when Alec, realising how he almost lost his best friend, proposed to Rita. After a few days, Rita accepted his proposal after initially turning him down. After a while they both decided to live together and Alec had a connecting door installed between their two flats for easier access - much to the amusement of the other Street residents. In December 1998 Rita and Alec mutually ended their relationship when both realised they couldn`t trust each other. Alec left Weatherfield for good when he went to open up a wine bar in Brighton with his granddaughter Vicky.
Finally, Rita met Anthony Stephens, a cultured man who wanted to marry her. Rita soon learned he was still married, and that his wife had Alzheimer's. His grown-up children interfered in the relationship, and Anthony went to live in New Zealand.
Rita met Eileen Grimshaw's father Colin in 2009. Colin was immediately attracted to Rita and he charmed her with presents; the pair soon hit it off. In February 2009, she admitted to Eileen that she really liked him and Eileen told her to go for it. On 27 April 2009, Rita organised a party in the Rovers for Colin's 70th birthday. Colin proposed to Rita, and she happily accepted.
The party was ruined by a vicious argument between Julie Carp and her mother Paula Carp. Paula had no choice but to tell Julie, in front of everyone, that Colin was Julie's father, that he had had a relationship with Paula when she was only 14 years old.
Rita was disgusted and immediately ended her relationship with Colin, refusing to hear his pleas and putting her engagement ring in the Kabin till. The support of Emily and Norris helped her through. She told Norris she felt incredibly silly and stupid. In spite of Rita's anger at Colin's actions, she visited him after he suffered a stroke. When she learned of his death, she initially chose not to attend his funeral, but changed her mind and showed up after the service to say her goodbyes and support his family.
For many years Rita ran a newsagent's shop in the Street, called "The Kabin", which she acquired in 1973 during her relationship with Len. The shop was originally at 14 Rosamund Street, but re-located to Coronation Street when a new building development took place. As the years passed, more and more of Rita's life revolved around The Kabin, although she sometimes considered retiring or selling up.
The scenes in The Kabin are usually a comedy double-act between Rita and her assistant (first Mavis Wilton, now Norris Cole). Rita was often frustrated by Mavis, but they were very dear friends and Rita was sad to see her leave in 1997.
In 1990 Rita moved from No7, letting it to students, to a flat above the new Kabin. She was pursued the next year by Reg Holdsworth, but she did not remarry until 1992, to Ted Sullivan.
As the twenty-first century unfolded, Rita began to have doubts about her future with the Kabin. In 2006, a break-in terrified her to the point where she was reluctant to leave the house. In 2008, Tony Gordon convinced her to sell him the Kabin so he could replace it with a new business (the plans fell through when Kevin Webster would not sell his business). In 2009, Rita finally made the decision to retire after Ramsay Clegg's death spurred her to want to enjoy the rest of her life.
Soon after the Kabin set up shop, Mavis was asked to take on Deirdre Hunt, as her boyfriend, Len's partner Ray Langton, had initially wanted to buy the property. Rita refused, and instead hired Mavis Riley, in spite of Mavis having hiccups during the interview.
Fluttery, shy Mavis and straightforward Rita were an odd mix, but supported each other through good times and bad and were close friends for nearly a quarter of a century.
In April 1997, Mavis's beloved husband Derek died on Mavis' birthday of a heart attack due to an incident of road rage. Rita poured all her energy into Mavis' life in helping her cope alone with her grief. Rita persuaded Mavis to start a new life in the Lake District managing a Bed & Breakfast. Mavis agreed, and made plans to sell their houses and The Kabin. At the last minute, Rita backed out and Mavis, anxious to get away from Weatherfield and her bad memories, went to Cartmel on her own.
After Mavis left, Rita realised she needed another assistant for The Kabin as she couldn't cope on her own. In 1998, Rita took Leanne Battersby, a cheeky teenager who Rita sees as a lot like herself at that age. Leanne soon became an asset to Rita, even though they didn`t share the friendship and closeness that Rita and Mavis once shared.Their relationship fractured when Sharon returned to town. Leanne felt shut out and when she was falsely accused of stealing money, quit her job to work at the Rover's.
After Leanne's departure, Rita briefly employed Blanche Hunt, but found her to be unbearable. She then hired Norris Cole. Fussy, gossipy, and judgmental, Norris and Rita had little in common, but they became friends. Norris seemed to feel more for Rita than friendship, and proposed to her in 2007 (she said no). A few years later, he was very jealous of her relationship with Colin Grimshaw.
In October 2006 Rita and Norris went on a holiday they had won to Hungary. Rita broke her toes whilst there and had to stay in hospital, while Norris returned. Rita returned in November 2006 to reveal that her foot was broken when Norris tripped her while trying to get to a bread bun first.
After Len's death, Rita eventually took in Jenny Bradley, a paper girl who had recently lost her mother. Rita and Jenny were initially very close, and Rita helped Jenny build a relationship with her long-absentee father, Alan Bradley. When Rita uncovered Alan's lies and planned to call the police, Jenny walked in on him trying to kill Rita. After Alan's acquittal, Rita disappeared, and Alan was suspected of killing her. When he tracked her down, he was hit by a streetcar. Jenny turned against Rita, blaming her for Alan's death.
In September 1993, Rita was pleased to see Jenny Bradley arrived out of the blue. Things weren't as they seemed though as Jenny only came back to try and con some money out of Rita. But Rita saw right through Jenny, and gave her £1,000, telling her she didn't want to see her again.
In March 1994, Rita felt lonely, so she started taking Sally Webster under her wing when Sally found out she was pregnant with her and Kevin's second child. Rita and Sally became very close. So close in fact that Sally invited Rita to spend a holiday in Blackpool with them. Sally wanted to make Rita see that her bad experience in Blackpool in 1989 with Alan Bradley was over with. To Sally's relief, Rita had a wonderful time there playing with Rosie. When Sally gave birth to their second daughter Sophie, Rita was hurt to find out she was the last to know about it, due to an oversight. Rita later lent the family some money, but in 1995, when Kevin's father Bill returned to town, Sally and Kevin gave him the money to pay for taxes on his new business. Rita told Sally she'd given the family the money, not Bill, but Sally hit back that her family was not for sale. In spite of the friction, something of a bond remained, and Sally used Rita as a confidant during times such as her brief relationship with Martin Platt. In April 2009, when Sophie confessed to stealing sweets from the Kabin, Rita forgave her, praising her for her honesty and convincing her to just help clean the store as payment.
Rita and Len fostered Sharon Gaskell in the early 80s. Sharon was a tomboy who preferred working in the builders yard to working in the Kabin. Rita tried to teach Sharon about self-respect when she decided to go on the pill so she could sleep with her boyfriend.
A few months later, Sharon was moved to a new foster home, but ran away to be with Rita and Len again. They got permission for her to stay with them until she turned 18. Unfortunately, she became infatuated with Brian Tilsley, who responded to her advances while he was drunk. When Gail found out what had happened, he lied that nothing had gone on, and she believed him. Rita confronted Sharon, who told Rita she was a hypocrite for talking about dalliances with married men. Rita slapped her. Reality also gave Sharon a slap, as Brian told her she was just a silly girl. Sharon was too humiliated to stay in Weatherfield, and moved to Sheffield to help run a kennel.
In 1999, Rita received a wonderful surprise in the form of her former foster daughter Sharon. Sharon had come by to visit Rita to invite her to her wedding in Nottingham. Rita persuaded her to have the wedding in Weatherfield. However, in March the wedding didn't take place as Rita had discovered her fiance Ian was two-timing her with the new landlady of the Rovers Natalie Barnes. Happy that Sharon decided to stay around after the wedding fiasco, Rita offered Sharon a job at The Kabin and Alec's old flat. Sharon happily accepted. Much to the horror of Leanne, and a few others of Rita's friends, Rita offered The Kabin to Sharon as a birthday gift. Rita admitted to Sharon that she was lonely, that was why she offered Sharon The Kabin. Her gesture was a living legacy from a woman who always looked upon Sharon as the daughter she never had. Rita was happy to pass on her experience knowing that The Kabin would be well looked after in years to come.
Rita's pride in Sharon soon turned to anger when Sharon, after a suicide attempt over Danny Hargreaves, revived her relationship with Ian. Making matters worse, Ian forced Sharon to sell the Kabin so they could buy a home in Bolton. Rita swallowed her pride and bought the Kabin back.
Rita once clipped Chesney Brown around the ear for repeatedly stealing from her shop. Chesney's conniving mother Cilla attempted to take Rita to court in an attempt to get 'compensation', despite knowing that no harm had come to her son at Rita's hands. Rita was prosecuted and spent a short time in prison following her conviction. Money-grabbing Cilla was disappointed by the compensation money and tried to further con Rita, but this eventually failed. She continued to hate Cilla, but bore no ill will against Chesney, even taking him in one night when he had nowhere else to go.
In 2006 Rita faced the trauma of her flat being broken into. Orchid, who was in Coronation Street in 2004 when she conned Fred Elliott by pretending to be a Thai bride when actually she was just someone from Manchester and her real name was Stacey. In 2006 she reappeared on the Street. She had conned another man called Stuart, he locked her up in his flat for days on end. One day she escaped and was beaten up by the so-called boyfriend. She moved into the Street and started to live with Rita. One day they returned from town to find Rita's flat totally ruined, A couple of days later Rita was petrified when Stuart entered The Kabin demanding to see Stacey, he threatened to beat her up if she did not tell him where she was hiding. Once Stacey had got to the shop along with Fred there was trouble. Nathan who was working in Webster's Garage came over and pinned Stuart down on the floor. The police came and arrested him and Stacey. Rita decided to move into her friends house Emily Bishop and her other friend Norris Cole temporarily moved into Rita's flat.
Rita has met up with her old friend Doreen. She had invited her to move into her flat which followed Doreen's eviction, much to the chagrin of disapproving Norris. While she and Doreen initially got on, enjoying reminiscences of the old days, Doreen outstayed her welcome, claiming that the council were delaying completion of works to her flat. Rita, who had come to the end of her tether, 'phoned Weatherfield council pretending to be Doreen, and found out that the works were long since completed. After Rita confronted her, Doreen packed her bags and left Coronation Street, however she soon returned after being persuaded by the most unlikely of people - Norris.
On the 2nd September 2007 Norris proposed to Rita, However Rita said no to Norris' proposal, also telling him that she had expected it for some time but had always known what her answer would be - he also went onto propose to Doreen.
Rita has had three husbands:
Her parents were Harold and Amy Littlewood.
Rita's main friendships are with Norris Cole and Emily Bishop. Emily and Rita shared something of a bond in their earlier years on the Street (Rita gave Emily's husband Ernest a job after he'd been forced to go on the dole), but only in later life, when their husbands and many of their friends had moved away or passed on, did they become close companions. Rita even unwittingly saved Emily's life in 2003, when she stopped by to check on Emily just as Richard Hillman was about to smother a sleeping Emily with a pillow.
|Ken Barlow | Emily Bishop | Rita Sullivan | Peter Barlow | Betty Williams | Deirdre Barlow | Gail McIntyre | Audrey Roberts | Jack Duckworth | Nick Tilsley | Kevin Webster | Bill Webster | Sally Webster | Liz McDonald | Steve McDonald | Rosie Webster | David Platt | Norris Cole | Sophie Webster | Roy Cropper | Ashley Peacock | Janice Battersby | Leanne Battersby | Hayley Cropper | Tyrone Dobbs | Dev Alahan | Eileen Grimshaw | Kirk Sutherland | Jason Grimshaw | Sunita Alahan | Fiz Stape | Joshua Peacock | Simon Barlow | Sean Tully | Chesney Battersby-Brown | Claire Peacock | Amy Barlow | Kelly Crabtree | Lloyd Mullaney | Molly Dobbs | Amber Kalirai | Aadi Alahan | Asha Alahan | Becky McDonald | Michelle Connor | Freddie Peacock | Ryan Connor | Carla Connor | Teresa Bryant | Tony Gordon | Tina McIntyre | Graeme Proctor | Julie Carp | Ted Page | Natasha Blakeman | Joe McIntyre | Pam Hobsworth | Eddie Windass | Anna Windass | Gary Windass | Minnie Chandra | Jesse Chadwick | Sian Powers | Connie Rathbone|