Rovers Return Inn

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Rovers Return Inn
Rovers Return Inn Feb 2015.jpg
Rovers Return Inn exterior, as it appeared onscreen, from May 2013 to January 2014.
First appearance9 December 1960
Founded1902 (In-universe)
AddressRovers Return Inn, Coronation Street
OwnerJohnny and Jenny Connor

The Rovers Return Inn is a fictional pub in the long-running British soap opera Coronation Street.

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 1995, 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.[1]

The Rovers has had three layouts. The original layout of a Public Bar, Select and the Snug lasted from 1902 until June 1986, when a fire, caused by an electrical fault accidentally started by Jack Duckworth, gutted the pub. After the fire, the original layout was replaced by a single bar. This layout lasted until March 2013 when another fire, started by Karl Munro destroyed The Rovers, killing both Sunita Alahan and Toni Griffiths in the process.

History of the pub[edit]

The Rovers Return Inn 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 as the go-ahead had already been given for the street to be named Coronation Street.[2] When Lieutenant Philip Ridley returned from active service in the Boer War, the pub was named in his honour.[2] In 1918, to celebrate the return of the soldiers from World War I, the apostrophe was removed, thus making it The Rovers Return.[2] 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".

Visitors tour the Coronation Street set.

Originally, the pub was divided into three separate bars: the public bar, 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 a waitress).[3] 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 room.

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 the Barlow's kitchen, next door at number one Coronation Street. There is also no obvious room for a commercial kitchen, despite the lunchtime serving of Betty Williams' (Betty Driver) noted hotpot while she was a barmaid at the pub.

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.[4] A mock-up of the snug 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.

The Rovers before and after with the new wallpaper, floor and soft furnishings
The Rovers in late 2008, with new wallpaper similar to the original style. Shown are Jason Grimshaw, Steve McDonald, Lloyd Mullaney, Dev Alahan and Kirk Sutherland mourning Liam Connor, killed in a hit and run planned by Tony Gordon.

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 makeover in February 2008, the wallpaper was changed again in October 2008, making its on-screen debut 17 October 2008. The producers were dissatisfied 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 22 years.

The Rovers before and after with the new taps, pumps at the bar and new curtains

The change of decor in February 2008 was a storyline in the show, in which Liz McDonald's (Beverley Callard) husband Vernon Tomlin (Ian Reddington) hired friends to redecorate. The new look of The Rovers in October 2008 was not explained in the story. A few weeks later, Emily Bishop (Eileen Derbyshire) commented to Jed Stone (Kenneth Cope) that the local pub had "recently" been redecorated.

Major Events[edit]

The fictional timeline proceeds as follows:

Owners since 1960[edit]

Jack (1937-1970) and Annie Walker (1970–1984)[edit]

(Arthur Leslie and Doris Speed)

Jack (Arthur Leslie) and Annie Walker (Doris Speed) bought the tenancy 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 was considered very different. Jack, with a broad Northern accent (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 holds the reins at The Rovers for 46 years. Her sometimes vicious snobbishness often alienates her from her customers, but she runs the pub with class and stands for no nonsense.[5] Behind her mask of a hard landlady, Annie is a very vulnerable person. In 1975, she is held up in her bedroom by two young thieves. After she refuses to reveal where she keeps her money, they flee, receiving a beating in the yard courtesy of Ray Langton (Neville Buswell) and Len Fairclough (Peter Adamson). Though calm throughout, the ordeal causes Annie to collapse later. The brewery hears rumours that she is becoming an absentee landlady, something which she had always feared.[6] She does not like to feel detached from her duties, and is always free to speak to customers and develop friendships with her staff, in particular Bet Lynch (Julie Goodyear) and Betty Turpin (Betty Driver). She continues her tenancy until 1983 (on-screen), but in 1984 it is announced that Annie has decided to retire as landlady to spend more time with her daughter, Joan, and her family in Derby. In agreeing to pay off her son Billy Walker's (Ken Farrington) debts, he agrees to take over the tenancy as landlord. Sadly, Billy does not fully enjoy the role, and in December 1984, the brewery buy the tenancy back from the Walker family, ending over 47 and a half years of the Walker name over the door of The Rovers. In 2012, it is revealed that Annie left the tenancy and role of landlady to Betty in her will; however, Betty is not interested, and the letter and will are only found after Betty's death (and the tenancy had already been sold back to the brewery prior to Annie's death, rendering the bequest moot).

Billy Walker (1984)[edit]

(Ken Farrington)

Wayward son of Annie, Billy first appears in Coronation Street in January 1961, but takes over The Rovers Return in 1984 after his mother Annie retires and signs the pub over to him. It doesn't last long, though, and he leaves for good in 1984, after a series of run-ins with police due to the lock-ins held after hours.

Bet (1985-1987, 1992-1995) and Alec Gilroy (1987–1992)[edit]

(Julie Goodyear and Roy Barraclough)

Arguably the most famous barmaid on Coronation Street, Bet Lynch was in charge of The Rovers Return for a little over 10 years. In late 1984, the brewery, Newton & Ridley, unhappy with the way the pub was being run into the ground by Billy, makes him an offer he cannot refuse for the licence. Rather than re-sell the licence, the brewery decides to hire a manager and Bet applies, despite the fact that she thinks she has little chance, as the brewery normally favours married couples. She is astounded, though, to be told by Dame Sarah Ridley that the "regulars" at the pub have signed a petition insisting she be given the job. In 1985, she becomes the brewery's first single female manager and the first ever female manager of The Rovers. A year later, she is almost immediately put under threat as The Rovers is gutted by fire, caused by Jack Duckworth (William Tarmey), after he tried to fix the faulty lighting. During the inferno, she is rescued from her bedroom by Kevin Webster (Michael Le Vell). While the pub is being refurbished, the nearby "Graffiti Club" in Rosamund Street enjoys a massive increase in trade. Its owner, Alec Gilroy (Roy Barraclough), starts sniffing about after The Rovers re-opens two months later. As the pub struggles to recover from the loss of business, Bet gets to know Alec and even books some of his acts to get the trade back up, leading to a love/hate friendship with him. The following year, Newton & Ridley decides to sell the licence to the pub and offers Bet first refusal; however, Bet cannot raise the money and Alec (who was attracted to her) lends her the cash to purchase the licence, allowing her to become the landlady.

She starts having serious trouble keeping up with the repayments and, panicking, suddenly disappears. Alec convinces Newton & Ridley to appoint him as a temporary manager so he can mind his investment. When Bet gets in touch with the brewery three months later, Alec immediately flies to Torremolinos where she is working in a bar and proposes – that way, he argues, she can have The Rovers back as the wife of the landlord and won't lose face. She agrees, reasoning to herself that Alec is the only man who tried to charm her without pretending to love her. They are 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 tracks down his mother "Elizabeth". Disgusted by Bet's common and lewd behaviour with the "regulars", he storms out of the pub without even telling her who he is. When a soldier friend of his visits Bet to give her the tragic news that he has been killed in a car crash, Bet is heartbroken – "The only decent thing a fella ever gave me... and now even that's been taken away from me." Contemplating suicide, she is talked out of it by Eddie Yeats, whose kindness and willingness to listen make her realise that life is still worth living.

Alec has baggage of his own; a daughter, Sandra Arden (Kathy Jamieson). Sandra and her husband meet the same fate as Martin in 1991, leaving their 15-year-old daughter Vicky (Chloe Newsome) distraught and orphaned. Vicky moves in with her grandfather at The Rovers, before leaving after a disastrous relationship with bad-boy Steve McDonald (Simon Gregson). In March 1988, Bet finds out she is pregnant, leaving her and Alec astounded. Despite the shock, they start to come around to the idea when Bet suffers a miscarriage a week later. Both she and Alec are devastated, but put on brave faces and carried on. In September 1992, Alec is offered a dream job in Southampton. Newton & Ridley agrees to buy back the licence, and Bet and Alec prepare to move. However, Bet finds herself unable to leave The Rovers as it has been her whole world for the past two decades; as a result Alec leaves alone. The brewery agrees to take Bet back on as the manager. In October 1995, the brewery once again wants to sell The Rovers; this time they are selling not just the licence but the entire pub. If Bet wants to keep her home and her job, she needs to buy The Rovers outright. Bet knows she cannot come up with the £67,000 she needs by herself. First she asks her long-time friend Rita Sullivan (Barbara Knox) to lend her the money and become a business partner. Rita has the money, and is about to agree when she talks with Alf Roberts (Bryan Mosley). She quickly realises that Bet's idea of a partnership is "you buy it, I'll run it" and refuses. However Bet, having heard from Mavis Wilton (Thelma Barlow) that Rita was going to buy, is furious, leading to a blazing row between the two. Name-calling and dredged-up memories are flung between the two, and the fight ends their friendship permanently. Bet then turns to Vicky, who is by now married to Steve. She is also unwilling to invest, considering The Rovers to be a bad investment, and her offer to buy a house for Bet to rent infuriates her. Enraged, she throws Vicky out of The Rovers and, realising that she has nobody else to turn to, throws everyone out of the pub in the middle of a busy afternoon session. Sending the staff home, Bet promptly packs her bags and calls herself a taxi. After a last look at her licensee nameplate and not knowing where she is going, Bet climbs into the taxi and leaves Weatherfield.

Jack and Vera Duckworth (1995–1998)[edit]

(Bill Tarmey and Liz Dawn)

Newton & Ridley puts The Rovers Return up for sale. Possible owners are Jack (Bill Tarmey) and Vera Duckworth (Liz Dawn) and Jim (Charles Lawson) and Liz McDonald (Beverley Callard). Liz had previously run The Queens pub for the company in 1993. Though they had lived through financial hardship for much of their lives, Jack came into a large inheritance gained from the deaths of his brother Cliff and sister-in-law Elsie in a car accident. Combined with the money made from selling No. 9, Jack and Vera have the cash ahead of the McDonalds and are allowed to buy The Rovers Return. As Jack has a criminal record, Vera is made the licensee. Vera, who always had elevated ideas of her own status, feels she has finally made something of her life. Her happiness is short-lived; in 1997 they discover they owe £17,000 in taxes and are forced to take on Alec, who has returned from Southampton, as a business partner. He allows them to continue living in The Rovers and to stay on as members of staff. When Natalie Horrocks (Denise Welch) takes over the pub a year later, she evicts the Duckworths and they go to run a friend's B&B instead.

Alec Gilroy (1998)[edit]

(Roy Barraclough)

When Alec returns to Weatherfield in 1998, he cons Jack and Vera, who have money problems, into selling half of The Rovers to him. Alec and the Duckworths carry on as business partners until Jack and Vera sell Alec their remaining share in the pub. In late 1998, Alec sells The Rovers Return to Natalie and moves away from Weatherfield again.

Natalie Barnes (1998–2000)[edit]

(Denise Welch)

Natalie raises her own standards by her purchase of The Rovers. Known for interfering in Kevin and Sally Webster's (Sally Dynevor) marriage, she is one of the Street's typical sirens. Her reign is also short. A month after their marriage, husband Des Barnes (Philip Middlemiss) is murdered by thugs in search of Natalie's son, Tony. She later unexpectedly falls pregnant, and leaves both the pub and Weatherfield in search of a new life.

Fred Elliott, Mike Baldwin and Duggie Ferguson (2000–2001)[edit]

(John Savident, Johnny Briggs and John Bowe)

Natalie puts the pub up for sale when she leaves. However, the interested party is a pub chain called "The Boozy Chain" which intends to rename "The Rovers Return" as "The Boozy Newt". Fearing that they are about to lose part of their local heritage, a consortium of businessmen puts together the £75,000 needed to buy the pub. Duggie Ferguson (John Bowe) is the only one with previous experience as a landlord and is left doing the lion's share of the day-to-day management, the others simply reaping the profits. He devises a plan that results in Fred Elliott (John Savident) and Mike Baldwin (Johnny Briggs) selling their shares to "Hamilton Griffiths Holdings", only for Duggie to reveal that he is the man behind this company. He now takes full control of The Rovers.

Duggie Ferguson (2001)[edit]

(John Bowe)

Duggie's time in charge is short-lived, however. He decides to buy Weatherfield Rugby League and Social Club, being a former professional rugby league footballer. The resulting auction causes a massive bidding war between barmaids Geena Gregory (Jennifer James) and Shelley Unwin (Sally Lindsay). However, Fred returns and stumps them all with his bid, acting on the wishes of his new wife, Eve Elliott (Melanie Kilburn).

Eve and Fred Elliott (2001–2002)[edit]

(Melanie Kilburn and John Savident)

As a couple, Fred and Eve's time in charge is short, with Fred discovering that Eve has committed bigamy by marrying him. Eve leaves Fred for her husband Ray Sykes (Peter McGuinness), but has no legal claim to The Rovers as all documents called her "Eve Elliot", which is not her name given that the marriage was invalid. Fred thus became the sole licensee.

Fred Elliott (2002–2006)[edit]

(John Savident)

Fred, a butcher, is not interested in running a pub, although he frequently helps out. Thus Shelley becomes the first female manager of The Rovers since Bet in 1985. However, following a nervous breakdown, Shelley becomes agoraphobic. Her inability to leave her bedroom seriously compromises her ability to the run the pub, although she eventually recovers, returning the business to relative stability. In September 2006, Fred plans to move away with his soon-to-be wife and Shelley's mother, Bev Unwin (Susie Blake), and agrees to sell the pub to Steve. However, Fred dies shortly after agreeing to the sale and, nothing having been finalised on paper, the pub now legally belongs to Fred's son Ashley (Steven Arnold).

Ashley Peacock (2006)[edit]

(Steven Arnold)

On Fred's death his entire assets, including The Rovers Return, are inherited by his surviving son Ashley. Fred had planned to sell The Rovers to Steve, but died before completing the sale. Like his father, Ashley is a butcher with no real interest in being landlord and decides to sell The Rovers to Steve as his father had planned.

Steve McDonald (2006–2011)[edit]

(Simon Gregson)

For years, Liz had worked at The Rovers on and off. She dreamed of buying it at one point with her then-husband, Jim. Her dream partly comes true when her son, Steve, buys The Rovers from Ashley, Liz becomes its landlady and licensee, as Steve, having a criminal record, cannot hold a licence.

A smoking shelter is erected in the back yard, albeit without planning permission. This is to cater for smokers after the public smoking ban is introduced in England on 1 July 2007. A direct walkway is built from the bar, knocking through part of the back wall of the building, so patrons don't have to pass through the living quarters. In 2011, Liz learns that Steve has started to run the pub into the ground, taking out loans against it. He wants the money so that his wife Becky (Katherine Kelly) can buy her nephew from her negligent sister, an action that has also caused him to surrender custody of Amy (Elle Mulvaney) to her mother Tracy Barlow (Kate Ford). Liz lays the blame for all this squarely at Becky's feet, causing a rift between her and Steve. Jim returns and soon develops the same contempt for Becky. He offers to buy the pub for Liz from Steve and Becky, claiming he has the money; however, this is a lie and, after failing to raise the cash in time, Jim desperately attempts to rob a building society at gunpoint. He is arrested and jailed for seven years as a result. Devastated, Liz finds she has lost her love of The Rovers, and decides to leave without telling Steve and Becky. Calling a taxi, she packs her bags, and leaves the pub and Weatherfield. With Liz gone, Steve and Becky are forced to find a new licensee, as neither can hold the title due to their criminal records. Steve hires Stella Price (Michelle Collins) as the new manager and licensee of The Rovers Return. He is dismayed when Stella moves in her boyfriend and daughter, though he soon accepts the situation. In December 2011, after beginning a relationship with Tracy Barlow, Steve decides to buy No.13 Coronation Street from friend/business partner Lloyd Mullaney and to concentrate on his other business, StreetCars. He sells the Rovers to Stella Price.

Stella Price and Karl Munro (2011–2012)[edit]

(Michelle Collins and John Michie)

Stella, The Rovers Return's manager and licensee, is offered first refusal and, while she is interested in buying the pub, her partner Karl Munro (John Michie) is reluctant, although he soon warms to the idea. After an application for a mortgage is approved, Stella and Karl buy The Rovers outright. Karl and Stella are happy being the new landlord and landlady for a while, but Karl becomes irritated at the amount of work he has to put in at The Rovers. In 2012, Karl begins an affair with barmaid Sunita Alahan (Shobna Gulati). When Stella finds out about the affair, she sacks Sunita and throws Karl out, demanding that he sign his half of The Rovers over to her.

Stella Price (2012–2013)[edit]

(Michelle Collins)

With Stella gaining full ownership of The Rovers and Karl out of her life, she begins a relationship with the much younger Jason Grimshaw (Ryan Thomas), making Karl envious. However, he becomes even more jealous when Stella asks Jason to move into The Rovers with her. In March 2013, Karl decides he cannot handle his jealousy of Jason and Stella any longer. On the night of a "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 sees Karl enter the pub and follows him. They argue and Karl attacks Sunita, leaving her unconscious after pushing her down the cellar stairs where the fire takes its toll. Unbeknownst to Karl, Stella is trapped upstairs, so Karl runs into 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 refurbish 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 Stella's mother, Gloria (Sue Johnston), steps in and pays Owen £80,000 so he will finish the renovations. Gloria gloats to Rita that she and Stella plan on re-opening the newly refurbished Rovers that weekend, implying that she is a co-owner. Stella eventually reunites with Karl, to whom she has become close 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, for which Karl is arrested soon after. Stella decides that Weatherfield and The Rovers hold too many bad memories for her and decides to put the pub up for sale.

Liz McDonald and Steve McDonald (2013–2015)[edit]

(Beverley Callard and Simon Gregson)

When former landlord Steve decides to buy back The Rovers from Stella in October 2013, he enlists the help of his mother, former landlady Liz, as he can not afford to buy the pub outright. Liz agrees to purchase 50% of The Rovers while Steve buys the remaining half with he and Michelle Connor (Kym Marsh) holding the pub licence as Steve's criminal record is now spent. Steve keeps the purchase of The Rovers a secret from Michelle whom he planned to make landlady. At first, Michelle is furious with Steve for going behind her back but warms to the idea of being landlady. In 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 Weatherfield and breaks it up. She explains to Steve that she has returned to help run the pub much to Michelle's disgust as Steve has kept yet another secret from her. Steve admits to Michelle that he could not afford to buy The Rovers outright and Michelle and Liz agree to be joint landladies.

Tony Stewart and Liz McDonald (2015)[edit]

(Terence Maynard and Beverley Callard)

In 2015, Liz's boyfriend Tony Stewart (Terence Maynard) grows tired of her and plots with secret lover Tracy to take the pub from the McDonalds. Tony falsely tells Steve that he needs back the money 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 into 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 share to Carla after she promises to keep Steve and Michelle as the pub's licensees. In revenge on Carla for offering to buy The Rovers, Tracy sets the Victoria Court flats on fire with Carla and her own daughter, Amy, trapped inside. Both Carla and Amy survived the blaze; however, Kal Nazir (Jimi Mistry) and Maddie Heath (Amy James-Kelly) are both killed in an explosion during the fire. Before Carla can sign on the dotted line, Liz learns from a vengeful Tracy of Tony's plan to get the pub. Therefore, Liz still owns her half of the pub while Tony owns the other half.

Liz McDonald and Steve McDonald (2015–2017)[edit]

(Beverley Callard and Simon Gregson)

In November 2015, Liz leads Tony to believe that they can reconcile their relationship if he hands back Steve's share of the pub. Tony succumbs and signs his 50% share over to Steve, making him the landlord again. Later, Tony proposes, hoping for a new start but Liz declines and humiliates Tony in front of the entire pub, telling him that their relationship is over.

Peter Barlow and Toyah Battersby (2017–2018)[edit]

(Chris Gascoyne) and (Georgia Taylor)

In 2017, Michelle separates from Steve for good after discovering that he secretly fathered Leanne Battersby's (Jane Danson) son Oliver while they had temporarily split up earlier. She demands that he sell his half of The Rovers and split the money of the sale with her as part of their divorce settlement, to which he agrees. Liz, not wanting to go into business partnership with a stranger, also decides to sell up, and the pub is eventually bought by Leanne's ex-husband Peter Barlow (Chris Gascoyne), who becomes its new landlord and installs his girlfriend and Leanne's step-sister Toyah Battersby (Georgia Taylor) as the landlady.

Johnny and Jenny Connor (2018–)[edit]

(Richard Hawley and Sally Ann Matthews)

Following Peter and Toyah's split, The Rovers is put up for sale. The pub is eventually bought by Johnny Connor (Richard Hawley) and his wife Jenny Connor (Sally Ann Matthews) due to sentimental reasons as it was the last place they saw their respective son and step son Aidan (Shayne Ward) before he tragically took his own life. Jenny Connor and Johnny Connor are now the official Rovers Return Inn Landlady and Landlord.


Current staff[edit]

Character Job role
Johnny Connor Co-owner (50%)/ Landlord/ Bar manager
Jenny Connor Co-owner (50%)/ Landlady
Sean Tully Barman/Chef
Gemma Winter Barmaid
Emma Brooker Barmaid

Previous staff[edit]

Job role Characters
Owners Newton & Ridley, Jack Duckworth, Vera Duckworth, Alec Gilroy, Natalie Barnes, Fred Elliott, Mike Baldwin, Duggie Ferguson, Karl Munro, Stella Price, Tony Stewart, Steve McDonald, Liz McDonald, Peter Barlow, Toyah Battersby
Licensees Jim Corbishley, Nellie Corbishley, George Diggins, Mary Diggins, Jack Walker, Annie Walker, Billy Walker, Bet Lynch, Alec Gilroy, Jack Duckworth, Vera Duckworth, Natalie Barnes, Fred Elliott, Mike Baldwin, Duggie Ferguson, Shelley Unwin, Eve Elliott, Karl Munro, Stella Price, Steve McDonald, Liz McDonald, Peter Barlow, Toyah Battersby
Bartenders Concepta Riley, Nona Willis, Doreen Lostock, Irma Barlow, Lucille Hewitt, Emily Bishop, Bet Lynch, Betty Williams, Blanche Hunt, Gail McIntyre, Suzie Birchall, Gloria Todd, Sally Webster, Raquel Watts, Tanya Pooley, Joyce Smedley, Samantha Failsworth, Judy Mallett, Vera Duckworth, Natalie Barnes, Tricia Armstrong, Lorraine Brownlow, Geena Gregory, Amy Goskirk, Shelley Unwin, Edna Miller, Eve Elliott, Maria Connor, Bev Unwin, Tracy Barlow, Violet Wilson, Lauren Wilson, Stella Price, Kelly Crabtree, Poppy Morales, Becky McDonald, Sunita Alahan, Eva Price, Mandy Kamara, Tina McIntyre, Gloria Price, Eileen Grimshaw, Andrea Beckett, Erica Holroyd, Sarah Platt, Liz McDonald, Ivan Cheveski, Sam Leach, Eddie Yeats, Fred Gee, Wilf Starkey, Jack Duckworth, Andy McDonald, Steve McDonald, Bill Webster, Martin Platt, Charlie Stubbs, Vinny Sorrell, Ciaran McCarthy, Vernon Tomlin, Karl Munro, Lewis Archer
Caterers Betty Williams, Ciaran McCarthy, Mandy Kamara
Cleaners Martha Longhurst, Clara Midgeley, Hilda Ogden, Amy Burton, Sandra Stubbs, Tricia Armstrong, Joyce Smedley, Vera Duckworth, Edna Miller, Harry Flagg, Anna Windass


Martha's death (1964)[edit]

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 up of the snug table which contained a sherry glass, a passport and Martha's famous NHS spectacles.

Lorry crash (1979)[edit]

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.

Fire (1986)[edit]

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; the fuse box exploded and started a fire. This scene was shown at the end of the previous episode, Episode 2630 on 16 June 1986, showing the fuse box showering sparks as it exploded, with flames licking out from a left over box of scotch whisky over the end credits.

The fire eventually took hold in the main bar area by the time young couple Kevin Webster (Michael Le Vell) and Sally Seddon (Sally Dynevor) returned from a rock concert in Sheffield at 5.30am. Noticing the smoke seeping out from under the Rovers door with the orange glow of the flames behind the glass, Sally alerted Kevin, gently whispering "Fire!". The street soon came alive as residents Percy Sugden (Bill Waddington) and Terry Duckworth (Nigel Pivaro) offered a helping hand. Immediately aware Bet was asleep in her bedroom and failing to wake her after banging the front doors to do so, Kevin acquired a ladder with the help of Percy and was able to reach the bedroom window. Ken Barlow (William Roache) phoned for the fire brigade, and moved the Barlows' orange Volkswagen Beetle under the viaduct, Jack doing the same with the Duckworth's Vauxhall Nova, to clear a space for the emergency services when they arrived. Emily Bishop (Eileen Derbyshire), Ivy Tilsley (Lynne Perrie) and Hilda Ogden (Jean Alexander) were others to join in with the rescue mission.

Inside, Bet had finally woken up, trying her beside lamp with no success, and raced out of the bedroom to crawl along the landing to her escape out of the pub, only to find her exit down the stairs blocked by flames that leapt up at her from the hallway. She released a blood-curdling scream and ran back into the bedroom, slamming the door behind her and slipping to the floor, whimpering and vomiting up the smoke that had congealed in her stomach. She collapsed unconscious, overcome from the smoke, before she could reach the window to shout for help. Julie Goodyear later revealed that her night dress, supposedly fire-proofed, had in fact caught fire during filming of the scene, and she was in genuine danger. She said in the 2010 documentary Coronation Street - 50 Years, 50 Moments that "the scream at the top of the stairs was for real. I was terrified."

Kevin climbed up the ladder and arrived at the window - Ivy throwing a rag to him to protect him from the smoke and Terry throwing a brick to allow him to smash the window. Shouting to the rest of the residents that he could see Bet, he climbed in. Down below, the front windows of the pub exploded out into the Street, sending shocked residents screaming and running. As Kevin dragged Bet to the window, the Fire Brigade arrived to take over, with Terry advising the fire chief in charge of the operations where Bet and Kevin could be found, with the chief telling one of his personnel where the room in question was. Kevin escaped back down the ladder and the firemen took over the task of getting Bet out themselves, putting one of their oxygen masks over her face.

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...?". Once the emergency services established everyone had been safely accounted for, they set about extinguishing the fire itself, starting with the main bar and working their way down to the cellar where the fire had originated. The Rovers was completely destroyed as the fire brigade and police examined the pub and quickly established the fire had been caused by an electrical fault after looking over the fuse box, and clear out the loose debris.

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 sequence initially was to show workmen finished boarding up the pub's doors and windows and taking the rubbish bags with much of the charred debris away. After the rubbish wagon drove off, 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, and shows the Rovers in a sorry state. The entire sequence was 1 minute 45, over twice as long as usual.

Ray Langton's death (2005)[edit]

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)[edit]

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.

Cellar (2008)[edit]

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.

Fire (2013)[edit]

On 18 March 2013, Karl Munro (John Michie) set fire to the pub's cellar 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.

Interior set[edit]

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 Websters' house, Audrey's salon and the flat above the salon.

See also[edit]


  • Little, Daran. Life and Times at 'The Rovers Return'. Boxtree, 1994.
  • Banham, Martin. The Cambridge Guide to Theatre. Cambridge University Press, 1995. page 1067.


  1. ^ Frangopulo, N. J., ed. (1962) Rich Inheritance. Manchester: Education Committee; pp. 195–96
  2. ^ a b c Little. (1993) p.8.
  3. ^ Little. (1993) p.90.
  4. ^ Little. (1993) p.91.
  5. ^ Little. (1993) p.19.
  6. ^ Little. (1993) p.142.

External links[edit]