Rovers Return Inn
||This article describes a work or element of fiction in a primarily in-universe style. (December 2013)|
Rovers Return Inn.
|Address||Rovers Return Inn, Coronation Street|
|Owners||Liz McDonald and Steve McDonald|
The Rovers Return occupies a corner of Coronation Street and Rosamund Street. The pub was built by the fictional brewery Newton and Ridley. The Rovers Return Inn has been a free house since 1996, although the brewery continues to supply it. The name comes from the Rover's Return in Withy Grove, Manchester, a 14th-century building which became a licensed house at some point but ceased to be so in 1924 and was demolished in 1958.
The Rovers has had three layouts. The original layout of a Public Bar, Select and the Snug was replaced by a single bar after a fire, caused by an electrical fault devastated The Rovers in June 1986. This layout lasted until March 2013 when another fire, started by Karl Munro destroyed The Rovers.
- 1 History of the pub
- 2 Major Events
- 3 Owners
- 3.1 Jack and Annie Walker (1937–84)
- 3.2 Billy Walker (1984)
- 3.3 Bet and Alec Gilroy (1985–95)
- 3.4 Jack and Vera Duckworth (1995–98)
- 3.5 Alec Gilroy (1998)
- 3.6 Natalie Barnes (1998–2000)
- 3.7 Fred Elliott, Mike Baldwin and Duggie Ferguson (2000-01)
- 3.8 Duggie Ferguson (2001)
- 3.9 Eve and Fred Elliott (2001-02)
- 3.10 Fred Elliott (2002–06)
- 3.11 Ashley Peacock (2006)
- 3.12 Steve McDonald (2006–11)
- 3.13 Stella Price and Karl Munro (2011–12)
- 3.14 Stella Price (2012-13)
- 3.15 Liz McDonald and Steve McDonald (2013–15, 2015–)
- 3.16 Tony Stewart and Liz McDonald (2015)
- 4 Employees
- 5 Incidents
- 6 The Interior Set
- 7 See also
- 8 Bibliography
- 9 References
- 10 External links
History of the pub
The Rover's Return opened in 1902 on the newly built Coronation Street (1902 being Coronation year for Edward VII). It was originally to be called The Coronation but the brewery was forced to change the name when the go-ahead had already been given for the street to be named Coronation Street. When Lieutenant Philip Ridley returned from active service in the Boer War, the pub was named in his honour. In 1918, to celebrate the return of the soldiers from World War I, the apostrophe was removed, thus making it The Rovers Return. When Coronation Street began in 1960, the signage of the pub read "The Rovers Return" but at some point was changed to read "Rovers Return Inn", without a "The".
Originally, the pub was divided into three separate bars: the public, the snug (usually inhabited by unaccompanied ladies where drinks were half a penny cheaper) and the select (where drinks were more expensive but were served by waitress service). As late as 1960, the ruling in the pub was that ladies were not allowed to remain at the bar after being served. These archaic rules were dropped in the early 1960s. When the fire gutted the pub in 1986, the three bars were knocked into one large modern pub.
The living quarters downstairs bear no resemblance to the exterior set of the pub. In reality, the living room (the "back room") would be in the middle of the street at the side of the pub, outside the Medical Centre. Since 1960 the toilet and cellar doors on the other side of the building would seem to enter into the Barlow's kitchen, next door at number one Coronation Street. There is also no obvious room for a commercial kitchen, despite the pub famously serving Betty's hotpot for several years.
Since mid-2008, viewers have seen scenes in a kitchen/dining room in the upstairs of the pub (for use by the licensee/residents), although no other characters had ever used or referred to this room previously. A mock-up of the Snug bar was a feature of the Granada Studios Tour.
The set's exterior doors are narrower than the doors on the interior set. This has always been the case as the exterior set is reduced in scale.
In February 2008, after 22 years with the same look since re-opening after the fire in 1986, the Rovers Return was redecorated. It received new wallpaper, re-upholstered seating, new flooring and new light fittings. A smoking shelter was built, which is accessed by a new door in the main pub area. This door has not been seen on screen.
Since that make over in February 2008, the wallpaper was changed again in October 2008, making its on screen debut 17 October 2008. The producers were not happy with the choice of wallpaper in February 2008. The new wallpaper is similar to the wallpaper used after the 1986 fire which hung in the Rovers for twenty-two years.
The change of decor in February 2008 was a storyline in the show, where Liz McDonald's husband Vernon hired friends to redocorate. The new look of the Rovers in October 2008 was not explained in the story. A few weeks later, Emily Bishop commented to Jed Stone that the local pub had "recently" been redecorated.
The fictional timeline proceeds as follows:
- 13 May 1964: Martha Longhurst (Lynne Carol) dies after suffering a heart attack in the snug of The Rovers.
- 7 March 1979: A lorry crashes into The Rovers Return, injuring several people including Alf Roberts (Bryan Mosley), Mike Baldwin (Johnny Briggs) and Betty Turpin (Betty Driver). Deirdre Langton (Anne Kirkbride) panics because she left a young Tracy (Christabel Finch) sitting outside in her pram, but it emerges that she was kidnapped by Sally Norton (Yvonne Nicholson).
- 18 June 1986: A faulty electricity box starts a fire in the pub, and the whole interior explodes. Bet Lynch (Julie Goodyear) was asleep upstairs, but is eventually rescued by Kevin Webster (Michael Le Vell).
- 12 February 1993: Outside the pub, Lisa Duckworth (Caroline Milmoe) is killed by a speeding motorist while crossing the road. She dies instantly.
- 13 April 2001: Toyah Battersby (Georgia Taylor) is raped in the ginnel beside The Rovers by an unseen assailant.
- 10 April 2005: Tracy Barlow's (Kate Ford) father Ray Langton (Neville Buswell) dies of stomach cancer during a party to celebrate the second wedding of his ex-wife Deirdre to Ken Barlow (William Roache).
- 22 February 2008: Violet Wilson (Jenny Platt) gives birth to her son Dylan assisted by Marcus Dent (Charlie Condou).
- 23 January 2012: During the wedding reception of Tracy Barlow (Kate Ford) and Steve McDonald (Simon Gregson), Steve's ex-wife Becky (Katherine Kelly) reveals that Tracy suffered a miscarriage the day before she blamed Becky for the miscarriage, thus meaning that Tracy was lying. Steve subsequently leaves Tracy.
- 9 September 2012: Kirsty Soames (Natalie Gumede) goes into labour after a fight with barmaid Tina McIntyre (Michelle Keegan), she later gives birth to her daughter Ruby Dobbs in the back room.
- 18 March 2013: In an attempt to frame Jason Grimshaw (Ryan Thomas) for arson, Karl Munro (John Michie) sets fire to The Rovers leaving Stella Price (Michelle Collins) and Sunita Alahan (Shobna Gulati) hospitalised and killing Toni Griffiths (Tara Moran) and later Sunita.
- 26 May 2013: After telling Izzy Armstrong (Cherylee Houston) that Gary Windass (Mikey North) made a pass at her, Tina McIntyre (Michelle Keegan) goes into labour with their child 2 months early.
- 14 October 2013: After accusing barmaid Tina McIntyre (Michelle Keegan) of having an affair with her husband David (Jack P. Shepherd), Kylie Platt (Paula Lane) attacks her in The Rovers, leading to an explosive catfight. During the fight, Liz McDonald (Beverley Callard) returns to Coronation Street and announces that she is the co-owner of The Rovers.
- 25 December 2013: A drunken Kylie Platt (Paula Lane) makes a pass at Rob Donovan (Marc Baylis) and ends up brawling with Tina McIntyre (Michelle Keegan) yet again outside of The Rovers.
- 22 January 2014: Anna Windass (Debbie Rush) walks into The Rovers and reveals the devastating news of Hayley Cropper's (Julie Hesmondhalgh) death to the regulars.
- 27 May 2014: Peter Barlow (Chris Gascoyne) reveals to his wife Carla Connor (Alison King) all about his affair with Tina McIntyre (Michelle Keegan) in the backroom. She storms into the pub, shouting that she wants to "kill" Tina. When Tina is later attacked and dies, Carla becomes prime suspect for shouting this out in the pub.
- 13 May 2015: Liz McDonald (Beverley Callard) is attacked by two thugs, but she is unaware that her partner Tony Stewart (Terence Maynard) arranged the horrific attack.
Jack and Annie Walker (1937–84)
Jack and Annie Walker bought the lease and moved into The Rovers Return on 4 February 1937. During World War II landlord Jack was away from the pub for some time on army duty, leaving Annie to run the pub by herself. The pair were considered very different. Jack, a broad, Northern speaking man (the phrase "Eeee Annie" heard on many occasion), was no different from his customers, whilst Annie was a snobbish, "well spoken" lady. Despite this, the pair were inseparable until Jack's untimely death in 1970 while the couple were on holiday. (This was due to the sudden death of Arthur Leslie off screen.) Considered by many to be the best landlady of them all, Annie held the reins at The Rovers for 46 years. Her sometimes vicious snobbishness often alienated her from her customers and she ran the pub with class and stood no nonsense. Behind her mask of a hard landlady, Annie was a very vulnerable person. In 1975, she was held up in her bedroom by two young thieves. After refusing to reveal where she kept her money, they fled, receiving a beating in the yard courtesy of Ray Langton (Neville Buswell) and Len Fairclough (Peter Adamson). Though calm throughout, this ordeal caused Annie to collapse later. The brewery had heard rumours that she was becoming an absentee landlady, something which she had always feared. She did not like to feel detached from her duties and was always free to speak to customers and develop friendships with her staff, in particular Bet Lynch (Julie Goodyear) and Betty Turpin (Betty Driver). She continued her tenancy until 1983 (on-screen), but in 1984 it was announced that Annie had decided to retire as landlady to spend more time with her daughter Joan and her family in Derby. She signed The Rovers Return over to her son Billy making him landlord. In 2012, it was revealed that Annie left the role of landlady to Betty in her will, however Betty was not interested as the letter and will was only found after Betty's death (and the pub had already been sold prior to Annie's death, rendering the bequest moot).
Billy Walker (1984)
Wayward son of Annie, Billy Walker first appeared in Coronation Street in January 1961, but took over The Rovers Return in 1984 after his mother Annie retired and signed the pub over to her son. It didn't last long however and he left for good in 1984 after a series of run ins with police due to the lock-ins held after hours.
Bet and Alec Gilroy (1985–95)
Arguably the most famous barmaid on Coronation Street, Bet Lynch was in charge of The Rovers Return for a little over ten years. The brewery, Newton and Ridley, unhappy with the way the pub was being run into the ground by Billy Walker's wayward behaviour, made him an offer he couldn't refuse for the licence. Rather than resell the licence, the brewery decided to hire a manager instead and Bet applied, despite the fact that she thought she had little chance as the brewery normally favoured married couples. She was astounded, however, to be told by Dame Sarah Ridley that the 'regulars' at the pub had signed a petition insisting she be given the job. She became the brewery's first single manageress and the first ever manageress of The Rovers. She was almost immediately put under threat as the Rovers caught fire in 1986. She was rescued from her bedroom by Kevin Webster (Michael Le Vell). While the pub was being rebuilt and out of commission, the nearby bar in Rosamund Street named the Graffiti Club enjoyed a massive increase in trade and its owner, Alec Gilroy, starting sniffing about after The Rovers reopened two months later. As The Rovers struggled to recover from the loss of business, Bet got to know Alec and even booked some of his acts in order to get the trade back up, leading to a love/hate friendship with him. The following year Newton and Ridley decided to sell the licence to the pub and offered Bet first refusal. However Bet couldn't raise the money and Alec (who was attracted to her) lent her the cash to purchase the licence allowing her to become the landlady. She started to have serious trouble keeping up with the repayments and, panicking, suddenly disappeared. Alec convinced Newton and Ridley to appoint him as a temporary manager so he could mind his investment. When Bet got in touch with the brewery three months later, Alec immediately flew to Torremolinos where she was working in a bar and proposed - that way, he argued, she could have the Rovers back as the wife of the landlord and this way she wouldn't lose face. She agreed, reasoning to herself that Alec was the only man who tried to charm her without pretending to love her. They were married a year later on 9 September. Bet had given birth to a son, Martin, when aged 16 in 1956. She gave him up for adoption. In 1975, as a successful soldier based in Northern Ireland, he tracked down his mother "Elizabeth". Disgusted by Bet's common and lewd behaviour with the "regulars", he stormed out of the pub without even telling her who he was. When a soldier friend of his visited Bet to give her the tragic news that he had been killed in a car crash, Bet was heartbroken - "The only decent thing a fellar ever gave me... and now even that's been taken away from me." Contemplating suicide, she was talked out of it by Eddie Yates, whose kindness and willingness to listen made her realise that life was still worth living.
Alec had baggage of his own, a daughter, Sandra. Once again, ironically, Sandra and her husband met the same fate as Martin in 1991, leaving their 15-year-old daughter Vicky distraught and orphaned. Vicky moved in with her grandfather at The Rovers, before leaving after a disastrous relationship with bad-boy Steve McDonald (Simon Gregson). In March 1988, Bet found out she was pregnant leaving her and Alec astounded. Despite the shock, they started to come around to the idea when Bet tragically suffered a miscarriage a week later. Both she and Alec were absolutely devastated but put on brave faces and carried on. In September 1992, Alec was offered a dream job in Southampton. Newton and Ridley agreed to buy back the licence and Bet and Alec prepared to move. However, Bet found herself unable to leave The Rovers as it had been her whole life for the past two decades and as a result Alec left alone. The brewery agreed to take Bet back on as the manageress. In October 1995, the brewery once again wanted to sell The Rovers but this time they weren't just selling the licence but the entire pub and if Bet wanted to keep her home and her job she would need to buy The Rovers outright. Bet knew she could never come up with the £67,000 she needed by herself. First she asked her long-time friend Rita Sullivan (Barbara Knox) to lend her the money and become a business partner. Rita had the money, and was about to agree when she talked with Alf Roberts (Bryan Mosley) she quickly realised that Bet's idea of a partnership was "you buy it, I'll run it" and refused. However Bet, having heard from Mavis Wilton (Thelma Barlow) that Rita was going to buy it, was furious and this led to a blazing row between the two. Name-calling and dredged up memories were flung between the two and the fight ended their friendship permanently. Bet then turned to Vicky, who was now married to Steve McDonald. She was also unwilling to invest, considering The Rovers to be a bad investment, and her offer to buy a house for Bet to rent out just infuriated her. Enraged, she threw Vicky out of The Rovers and, realising that she had no-one else to turn to, threw everyone out of The Rovers in the middle of a busy afternoon session. Sending the staff home, Bet promptly packed her bags and called herself a taxi. After a last look at her licensee nameplate and not knowing where she was going, Bet climbed into the taxi and left the Street.
Jack and Vera Duckworth (1995–98)
Newton and Ridley put The Rovers Return up for sale. Possible owners were the Duckworths and Jim (Charles Dawson) and Liz McDonald (Beverley Callard). Liz had run The Queens Pub in 1993 for the company. Though they had lived through financial hardship for much of their lives, Jack came into a large inheritance gained from the death of Jack's brother Cliff and sister-in-law Elsie in a car crash. Combined with the money made from selling No. 9, Jack and Vera had the cash ahead of the McDonalds and were allowed to buy The Rovers Return. As Jack had a criminal record, Vera was made the licensee. For Vera, who always had elevated ideas of her own status, she had finally made something of her life. Her happiness was short-lived when in 1997 they discovered they owed £17,000 in taxes and were forced to take on Alec Gilroy (Roy Barraclough), who had returned from Southampton, as a business partner who allowed them to continue living in The Rovers and stay on as members of staff. When Natalie Horrocks (Denise Welch) took over the pub a year later, she evicted the Duckworths and they ended up running a friend's B&B instead.
Alec Gilroy (1998)
When Alec Gilroy, the ex-husband of former Rovers Return landlady Bet Lynch (Julie Goodyear), returned to the street in 1998 he conned Jack (Bill Tarmey) and Vera Duckworth (Liz Dawn), who had money problems, into selling half of The Rovers to him. Alec and the Duckworths carried on as business partners until Jack and Vera sold Alec their remaining share in The Rovers. In late 1998, Alec sold The Rovers Return to Natalie Barnes (Denise Welch) and moved away from the Street again.
Natalie Barnes (1998–2000)
Natalie raised her own standards by her purchase of The Rovers. Known for interfering in the Websters' marriage, she was one of the Street's typical sirens. Her reign was also short. A month after their marriage, husband Des Barnes (Philip Middlemiss) was murdered by thugs in search of Natalie's son. She fell unexpectedly pregnant and left both the pub and Weatherfield in search of a new life.
Fred Elliott, Mike Baldwin and Duggie Ferguson (2000-01)
Natalie put the pub up for sale when she left. However, the interested party was a pub chain called The Boozy Chain who intended to rename the Rovers Return as The Boozy Newt. Fearing that they were about to lose part of their local heritage, the above consortium of businessmen put together the £75,000 needed to buy the pub. Duggie was the only one with previous experience as a landlord and was left doing the lion's share of the day-to-day running, the other two simply reaping the profits. He devised a plan that resulted in Fred and Mike selling their share to Hamilton Griffiths Holdings, only for Duggie to reveal that he was the man behind this company. He now took full control of The Rovers.
Duggie Ferguson (2001)
Duggie's time in charge was short-lived however. He decided to buy Weatherfield Rugby League and Social Club, being a former Rugby League player. The resulting auction caused a massive bidding war between barmaids Geena Gregory (Jennifer James) and Shelley Unwin (Sally Lindsay). However, Fred Elliott (John Savident) came back and stumped them all with his bid, acting on the wishes of his new wife, Eve Elliott.
Eve and Fred Elliott (2001-02)
As a couple, their time in charge was short, with Fred discovering that Eve had in fact committed bigamy by marrying him. Eve left Fred for her husband Ray Sykes but had no legal claim to The Rovers as all documents called her Eve Elliot which was not her name given that the marriage had never occurred. Fred thus became the sole licensee.
Fred Elliott (2002–06)
The local butcher, Fred Elliott (John Savident), was never really interested in running a pub, although he would frequently help out. Thus Shelley Unwin (Sally Lindsay) became the first manageress of The Rovers since Bet in 1985. However, following a nervous breakdown, Shelley became agoraphobic. Her inability to leave her bedroom seriously compromised her ability to the run the pub although she eventually recovered, returning it to relative stability. In September 2006, Fred planned to move away with his soon-to-be wife Bev Unwin (Susie Blake) and agreed to sell the pub to Steve (Simon Gregson) . However, Fred died shortly after agreeing to the sale and, nothing having been finalised on paper, the pub now legally belonged to Fred's son Ashley (Steven Arnold).
Ashley Peacock (2006)
On Fred's death his entire assets including The Rovers Return were inherited by his surviving son Ashley (Steven Arnold). Prior to Fred's death he had planned on selling The Rovers to Steve (Simon Gregson) but died before things where finalised. Ashley was a butcher and had no real interest in being landlord and running The Rovers and decided to sell The Rovers to Steve as his father had planned.
Steve McDonald (2006–11)
For years, Liz McDonald (Beverley Callard) had worked at The Rovers on and off. She dreamed of buying it at one point with her then-husband, Jim (Charles Lawson). Her dream partly came true when her son Steve (Simon Gregson) bought The Rovers off Ashley (Steven Arnold). Liz became its landlady and licensee as Steve could not hold the title due to having a criminal record. A smoking shelter was erected in the back yard, albeit built without planning permission. This was to cater for smokers after the public smoking ban was introduced in the summer of 2007. A direct walkway was also built in the bar, knocking through part of the back wall of the building so patrons didn't have to pass through the living quarters. In 2011, Liz learned that Steve had started to run the pub into the ground due to taking out loans against it so wife Becky (Katherine Kelly) could buy her nephew from her negligent sister, an action that had also caused him to surrender custody of Amy (Elle Mulvaney) to her mother Tracy (Kate Ford). Liz laid the blame for all this squarely at Becky's feet, causing a rift between her and Steve. Jim returned and soon developed the same contempt for Becky and offered to buy the pub for Liz from Steve and Becky, claiming he had the money. However this was a lie and after failing to raise the cash in time Jim desperately attempted to rob a bank but was imprisoned. Devastated, Liz found she'd lost her love of The Rovers and decided to leave without telling Steve and Becky. Calling a taxi, she packed her bags before leaving the pub and the Street. With Liz gone, Steve and Becky were forced to find a new licensee as neither could hold the title due to having criminal records. Steve hired Stella Price (Michelle Collins) as the new manager and licensee of The Rovers Return. He was dismayed when Stella moved her boyfriend and daughter in, though he soon accepted the situation. In December 2011, Steve decided to buy Number 13 after beginning a relationship with Tracy Barlow and to concentrate on his other business, StreetCars, he puts The Rovers up for sale.
Stella Price and Karl Munro (2011–12)
Stella Price (Michelle Collins) The Rovers manager and licensee was offered first refusal, and while she was interested in buying the pub, her partner Karl Munro (John Michie) was reluctant, although he soon warmed to the idea. After an application for a mortgage had been approved, Stella and Karl buy The Rovers outright. Karl and Stella are happy for a while being the new landlord and landlady but Karl becomes irritated at the amount of work he has to put in at The Rovers. In 2012 Karl begins an affair with his and Stella's barmaid Sunita Alahan (Shobna Gulati). When Stella finds out about the affair she sacks Sunita and chucks Karl out demanding that he sign his half of The Rovers over to her.
Stella Price (2012-13)
With Stella gaining full ownership of The Rovers and Karl out of her life Stella starts a relationship with the much younger Jason Grimshaw (Ryan Thomas) making Karl insanely jealous, however he becomes even more jealous when Stella asks Jason to move in to The Rovers with her. In March 2013, Karl decides he cannot handle his jealously over Jason and Stella any longer and on the night of the Full Monty charity event at The Bistro, Karl sets fire to The Rovers to frame Jason, who had fixed the electrics earlier in the day. However, Sunita saw Karl enter the pub and followed him. They argued and Karl attacked Sunita, leaving her unconscious in the burning cellar. Unbeknown to Karl, Stella was trapped upstairs, so Karl ran in to the burning pub to save her. After a few days, Stella is discharged from the hospital and surveys the burnt out ruins of her pub. Stella enlists builder Owen Armstrong (Ian Puleston-Davies) to do the refurbishments on the pub. Stella later realises that the insurance company won't pay out and she can't afford to pay Owen for the refurbishments. Stella comes up with a plan to sign half of The Rovers over to Owen to pay her debt, Owen refuses the deal so in the end Stella's mum Gloria (Sue Johnston) steps up and pays Owen £80,000 so he will finish off the renovations to the pub. Gloria gloats to Rita Tanner (Barbara Knox) that her and Stella plan on re=opening the newly refurbished Rovers that weekend trying to make out she is co-owner. Stella eventually reunites with her ex-fiancee Karl Munro, whom she has become close to after the fire and asks him to move back in to The Rovers giving him the position of landlord again. On her wedding day to Karl Stella finally finds out that it was Karl who set fire to the pub and murdered Sunita, which Karl is arrested for soon after. Stella decides that Coronation Street and The Rovers holds to many bad memories for her and decides to put The Rovers up for sale.
Liz McDonald and Steve McDonald (2013–15, 2015–)
(Beverley Callard and Simon Gregson)
When former Rovers landlord, Steve, decides to buy back the Rovers from Stella in October 2013, he enlists the help of his mother, former Rovers landlady, Liz, as he could not afford to buy the pub outright himself. Liz gleefully agrees to purchase 50% of The Rovers, while Steve buys the remaining half, with him and Michelle holding the pub license, as Steve's criminal record has expired. Steve keeps the purchase of The Rovers a secret from his girlfriend, Michelle Connor (Kym Marsh), who he planned on making landlady. At first, Michelle is furious with Steve, for going behind her back, but warms to the idea of being landlady. On 14 October 2013, just days after Steve and Michelle take over the pub from Stella, a fight breaks out between Kylie Platt (Paula Lane) and Tina McIntyre (Michelle Keegan). During the fight, Liz returns to Coronation Street and breaks it up, explaining to Steve that she has returned to help run the pub, much to Michelle's disgust, as Steve as kept yet another secret from her. Steve admits to Michelle that he could not afford to buy the Rovers outright.
In November 2015, Liz McDonald led Tony Stewart to believe that they could reconcile their relationship if he handed back her son, Steve's, share of the pub. Tony succumbed and signed his 50% share over to Steve. Later, Tony proposed, hoping for a new start but Liz declined and humiliated Tony in front of the entire pub, telling him that they were over.
Tony Stewart and Liz McDonald (2015)
(Terence Maynard and Beverley Callard)
In 2015, Tony Stewart (Terence Maynard) grows tired of his girlfriend, current Rovers landlady, Liz and plots with secret lover, Tracy to take the pub from the McDonalds. Tony falsely tells Liz's son, Steve, that he needs the money back that he lent him, forcing Steve to sell his 50% of the Rovers. Steve gets an offer from a pub chain, called "Travis Limited", and accepts it, not knowing that Tony is the real buyer. After being successful in purchasing Steve's share of the pub, Tony sets in motion his mission to con Liz in to selling her 50% to "Travis Limited" as well, persuading her that they should start afresh, a little further away from Weatherfield. When she refuses, he arranges for two of his criminal friends to attack her in the bar. Tony manages to persuade Liz to sell up, promising a new life in Spain with her; however, Michelle's best friend, Carla Connor (Alison King), offers to buy Liz out of the pub. A furious Tony tries to persuade Liz to honour her deal with "Travis Limited", but Liz decides to sell her 50% of the Rovers to Carla, after she promises to keep Steve and Michelle, as the pub's licensees. For revenge on Carla, for offering to buy the Rovers, Tracy set the Victoria Court flats on fire with Carla and her own daughter, Amy Barlow (Elle Mulvaney), trapped inside. Both Carla and Amy survived the blaze, however, Kal Nazir (Jimi Mistry) and Maddie Heath (Amy James-Kelly), both perished in an explosion, during the fire; before Carla could sign on the dotted line, Liz learned of Tony's plan to get the pub from a vengeful Tracy. Therefore, Liz still owns her half of the pub, while Tony owns the other half.
|Liz McDonald||Co-owner/Landlady (50%)|
|Steve McDonald||Co-owner/Landlord/Licensee (50%)|
Martha's death (1964)
Episode 357, transmitted: 13 May 1964
In 1964, the producership of Coronation Street was handed to young, enthusiastic Tim Aspinall. He immediately began to ring changes. Since it had been fully networked across the various ITV regions in 1961, Coronation Street had never been out of the top ten ratings of the week (that continues to this day, 50 years on). However, competition came from the BBC (there were only two channels in those days, BBC Television and ITV - BBC 2 was to follow later that year). The BBC placed their most popular comedy series such as Steptoe and Son opposite the programme. In those pre-video recorder days, viewers were forced to choose what to watch, and, as a consequence, Coronation Street began to lose the ratings war. It was decided, by Aspinall, that several "blockbuster" storylines would have to be staged, the most radical being the death of Martha Longhurst (Lynne Carol).
Despite being a nosy old gossip and, in the Mancunian dialect of the show was "... no better than she should be....", Martha was a highly popular character; thus she was chosen to be killed off in a highly cynical bid to boost the ratings.
On the night of her death, the residents were gathered in The Rovers, singing songs and celebrating Frank Barlow's £5000 win on the Premium Bonds. Martha, on her way to Spain the next day, had been showing off her new passport, of which she was very proud. She began to feel faint and retreated to the Snug, away from the singing punters, all in tune with Ena Sharples (Violet Carson) on piano.
Feeling flushed she undid her top button, pushed off her beret, clutched her chest and collapsed onto the table. The regulars, with the impression she was drunk came to see what was going on. Upon inspection, Len Fairclough (Peter Adamson) pronounced her dead. She had suffered a fatal heart attack at the table she had frequented for years. The punters left, leaving only the Walkers, lifelong friend Ena and the late Martha Longhurst.
Violet Carson, a highly accomplished pianist (she had played the piano on the BBC's long-running Children's Hour) kept her back to the camera as she played the song "Down At The Old Bull and Bush" as she was so upset by the storyline and didn't want the camera to see her tears.
That night saw the credits roll in silence for the very first time (something that would later become the norm whenever a character was "killed-off"), with the rooftop scene replaced by a close of the snug table which contained a sherry glass, a passport and Martha's famous NHS spectacles.
Lorry crash (1979)
Episode 1893, transmitted: 7 March 1979
Deirdre Langton (Anne Kirkbride) wheeled her young daughter Tracy (Christabel Finch) down to The Rovers in her pram. She was to see Annie Walker (Doris Speed) with regards to a knitting pattern. Knowing Annie's strict rules concerning children on licensed premises, Tracy was left outside in her push chair.
No more than two minutes had passed as Deirdre and Annie spoke in the back room. Suddenly, their conversation was halted by screeching of brakes followed by a terrible crash, which shook the pub. Annie froze but Deirdre rushed through the pub and outside where she had left Tracy. In that very spot was a 6-foot pile of timber. Accompanying the pile was a lorry, turned on its side and smoking from the crash. Deirdre hysterically pulled away at the wood screaming for Tracy.
Inside the pub, Alf Roberts (Bryan Mosley) had been sitting with friend, Len Fairclough (Peter Adamson) in front of the window. Alf lay unconscious as Len, whose own arm was broken, desperately tried to help him.
Ken Barlow (William Roache), having rushed across from the community centre, took control. Having realised the driver was dead, he began to help the distraught Deirdre who was still frantically clawing at the timber. Once the police had taken charge, and Deirdre had been taken away to be comforted by Emily Bishop (Eileen Derbyshire) and Ena Sharples (Violet Carson), the timber was eventually cleared from the shattered pub.
The story was concluded when Tracy was found not to be under the timber, but had been snatched away moments before the pub was hit. The snatcher was a crazed young woman called Sally Norton (Yvonne Nicholson) who had become obsessed with Tracy. Mother and daughter were reunited later by the canal as Tracy was rushed to the arms of Deirdre. For Alf, the scars remained and he underwent a personality change months after he returned from hospital.
The Fire (1986)
Episode 2631, Transmitted: 18 June 1986
During a sing-a-long night, when the guests stood around the piano, the lights in the pub had been flickering and cutting out all night. Much to the frustration of Bet Lynch (Julie Goodyear) and the rest of the punters. Jack Duckworth (Bill Tarmey), potman at the time, decided to fix the problem. Upon return, he was graciously thanked for solving the problem. However, he had replaced the fuse with a far stronger one, leaving the problem of a potential explosion.... Bet retired to bed that night, having locked up. In the middle of the night, the inevitable happened, and the fuse caught fire.
Young couple Kevin (Michael Le Vell) and Sally (Sally Dynevor) were returning from a rock concert in the early hours. Noticing the smoke billowing out from under the Rovers door, Sally alerted Kevin. The street came alive as residents Percy Sugden and Terry Duckworth offered a helping hand. Kevin acquired a ladder with the help of Percy and was able to reach the bedroom window.
Inside, Bet had found her exit down the stairs blocked by flames that leapt up at her from the hallway. She let out a gut wrenching scream and crawled back into the bedroom, vomiting up the smoke that had congealed in her stomach. (Actress Julie Goodyear says that her night dress caught fire during filming the scene, and she was in genuine danger - "I can assure you, the scream at the top of the stairs is a genuine one.") She collapsed, overcome from the smoke.
Kevin had smashed his way through the window with a brick. Shouting to the rest of the residents that he could see her, he climbed in. Down below the front windows of the Rovers blew out into the street, sending shocked residents running. As Kevin dragged Bet to the window, the Fire Brigade arrived to take over.
Bet was saved as heroic Kevin was led home, refusing to be taken to hospital. Vera Duckworth (Liz Dawn) had sarcastically suggested that the cause had been Bet smoking in bed, though Jack knew who was to blame. As Bet was led away in the ambulance she joked "Can you give me a minute, love, give me time to put my face on...?"
Breaking with convention, the episode ended not with Bet fighting for her life, which would have been the usual soap opera cliché, but the pub itself, which Newton and Ridley thought was not worth saving and intended to demolish.
Once the Rovers was renovated and refurbished, Bet pinned an electrician's number up on the board telling Jack to call upon the services of a professional, as they had the Rovers back, and she intended on keeping it.
The closing credits for this episode were particularly long, this was due to a pigeon being captured on the camera after the closing sequence was filmed. The pigeon magically flew over the viaduct and landed on the blackened Rovers sign. The closing credits were extended to show this, with almost the entire theme tune being played, and delays between the last few credits. The entire sequence was 1 minute 45, over twice as long as usual.
Ray Langton's death (2005)
In 2005, Ray Langton (Neville Buswell) returned to Coronation Street, where he died of stomach cancer. His death was the second death in the history of Coronation Street to take place inside The Rovers.
Dylan Wilson's Birth (2008)
In February 2008, barmaid Violet Wilson (Jenny Platt) gave birth in the pub to Dylan who was fathered by gay barman Sean Tully (Antony Cotton). Landlady Liz McDonald (Beverley Callard), Eileen Grimshaw (Sue Cleaver) and Vernon Tomlin (Ian Reddington) were present at the birth. Sean's boyfriend, Marcus Dent (Charlie Condou), delivered the baby.
The Cellar (2008)
Episode 6834, Transmitted: 6 June 2008
In June 2008, Steve McDonald (Simon Gregson) and Dan Mason (Matthew Crompton) became engaged in a petty feud. Steve believed that Dan scratched his car, which resulted in Steve stealing Dan's mobile phone. At closing time, Dan went to the pub to confront Steve. He ended up hitting Steve by accident. Steve then struck Dan with a crate and threw the mobile down the cellar stairs. When Dan went to retrieve it, Steve locked him in the cellar. Dan, suffering pain from the blow of the crate, fell over in agony on the stairs. Steve, however, had already left and did not hear his shouts for help. The next day, Michelle Connor (Kym Marsh) found Dan and he was rushed to hospital. Steve was arrested for attempted murder and unlawful imprisonment.
The Fire (2013)
On 18 March 2013, Karl Munro (John Michie) set fire to the pub's cellar in order to frame Jason Grimshaw (Ryan Thomas) but was caught by Sunita Alahan (Shobna Gulati) who was knocked unconscious by Karl when he fled to the Bistro to do his "Full Monty" act. Norris Cole (Malcolm Hebden) and Emily Bishop (Eileen Derbyshire) came into the restaurant to tell everyone about the fire, and Karl discovered Stella was upstairs in one of the pub's bedrooms so he went back in to save her. As he got to her, the stairs collapsed, trapping them. Luckily Paul Kershaw (Tony Hirst) managed to get to them and got Stella out while his friend and fellow-firefighter Toni Griffiths (Tara Moran) got Karl out before the roof collapsed on top of her and killed her. Shortly afterwards the fire brigade arrived, put out the fire and were able to get Sunita out. The fire caused significant damage and caused financial problems for Stella meaning that she could not afford to hire Owen Armstrong (Ian Puleston-Davies) to do the refurb but after a failed attempt of offering Owen half the pub in exchange for the refurb, Stella's mother Gloria (Sue Johnston) paid him the £80,000 required to complete the work. Sunita was in a coma for a while and was killed by Karl when she began to recover. The Rovers re-opened on 26 May 2013.
The Interior Set
The Rovers Return set features walls and windows that can be removed to allow filming from different angles. There is a painted backdrop which looks over to the Webster's house, Audrey's salon and the flat above the salon.
- Little, Daran. Life and Times at 'The Rovers Return'. Boxtree, 1994.
- Banham, Martin. The Cambridge Guide to Theatre. Cambridge University Press, 1995. page 1067.
- Frangopulo, N. J., ed. (1962) Rich Inheritance. Manchester: Education Committee; pp. 195–96
- Little. (1993) p.8.
- Little. (1993) p.90.
- Little. (1993) p.91.
- Little. (1993) p.19.
- Little. (1993) p.142.