Rita Tanner (nee Littlewood, formerly Fairclough and Sullivan) is a character in Coronation Street who first appeared in Ep 415 - 2 Dec 1964 for one episode then returned full time in 1972. She has been married 3 times since she arrived in the Street, to Len Fairclough, Ted Sullivan and Dennis Tanner. Rita is played by actress Barbara Knox.



Rita Littlewood was born on the 25th February 1932 to Harold Littlewood and Amy Littlewood. Her father was a grocer. He died in 1946 when Rita was 14. Rita started singing and dancing in clubs and pubs around Weatherfield. She worked at The Orinoco Club, Viaduct Street.


Rita and Dennis shared a drink together in The Rovers Return, Coronation Street and he let her stay the night when his mum Elsie Tanner was away.


In May 1972, Rita returned to Weatherfield to escape her common law husband Harry Bates. In a nightlcub in Weatherfield, Rita chatted with Elsie Tanner and her surname rung a bell. Rita mentioned that in the 1960s she knew a Dennis Tanner at The Orinoco Club. Elsie said that was her son. By then, Dennis was long gone from Weatherfield.

Rita begun dating builder Len Fairclough and set up The Kabin, Rosamund Street where she became best friends with Mavis Riley. In 1977 Rita married Len. She has to often put up with his mood swings and fiery nature.

In September 2009, Rita decided to enjoy her life so decided to take a trip on a cruise. She sold the shop to Norris.


In early 2010 Rita returned from her cruise. As she was now retired she needed something to do, and ended up working with Emily in the charity shop. Rita wasn't keen and ended up walking out. Norris allowed her back at the Kabin to help out in the shop, and Rita began acting like she still owned it much to Norris' displeasure.

In December 2010 Rita was in the shop trying to get a box of chocolates off a top shelf when the Joinery Bar exploded, causing a tram to derail, with the rear end smashing into the shop and covering Rita in rubble. Miraculously she survived, although devastated by the destruction of her home. She stayed with Norris and Emily at Number 3 Coronation Street until her flat was fixed, and moved back in.

Behind the ScenesEdit

  • The character was originally introduced for a one off episode in December 1964 in which she appeared as Rita Littlewood, the friend of Dennis Tanner (Philip Lowrie). Over seven-years later the character was reintroduced in January 1972, however as "Mrs Bates". At the time no connection was made that she was the same character as before, and this only became apparent when she became a permanent fixture later on. In May 1972 she gave her maiden name as "Foster", however the following month gave her established maiden name "Littlewood".
  • Rita was absent from October 2009 to March 2010 due to Barbara Knox taking time off for health reasons.

Memorable infoEdit

Born: 25th February 1932, Weatherfield, Lancashire

Full Name: Rita Tanner (Nee Littlewood, later Bates, Fairclough and Sullivan)

Parents: Harold Littlewood and Amy Littlewood

Siblings: None

Spouses: Len Fairclough (1977-1983), Ted Sullivan (1992), Dennis Tanner (2012-2015)

Children: None

Uncles: Sam Littlewood

Rita was Mrs Rita Fairclough from 1977 to her second marriage to Ted in 1992. As of 2012, she has been Rita Tanner even though she has split up with Dennis.

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