Major characters that didn't have a proper exit

Carrie Fairchild

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I saw a couple of Twitter posts over the festive period about old Corrie characters and it got me thinking about how, due to circumstances beyond the control of the show, certain major characters ended up being written out without great ceremony. I'm not talking about when an actor or actress sadly dies offscreen but the other events that take people away from our screen.
  • For example, after 23 years on the show, Coronation Street's original landlady Annie Walker's final scene (unbeknownst to all involved) was just her perusing some items at a bring and buy sale. After this was filmed, Doris Speed took time off from the show after taking ill when a tabloid revealed her true age to the nation. She had intended to return to the show but after a robbery at her home, she moved to a nursing home and the cake sale scene proved to be her last.
  • Also from that era, Ena Sharples (Violet Carson) ended her 20 year tenure on the show by going off to stay with a friend while her apartment was being redecorated. Again, it was planned that she'd return but Violet's failing health meant that Ena never came back to the street.
  • More recently, after Bev Callard announced she was leaving the show, Liz McDonald was promised a big exit but due to the timing of covid restrictions and Bev's contract running out, Liz was quietly written off as going to live in Spain with her son Andy.
This topic isn't confined to just Coronation Street, I was only using the above as examples to open the discussion. For example, on EastEnders, he wouldn't be remembered as a "major" character in the show's history but in the early 00's, the Ferreira family were brought in amid much fanfare because (a) they were the first Asian family on the show since the 90's and (b) they were the first big family unit to be introduced following the super successful introduction of the Slaters three years earlier. Ferreira patriarch Dan (Dahlip Tahil) was due to take centre stage in a plot that would see him murdered by his children in reaction to his bullying and abuse. However, after Tahil ran into work permit issues, he couldn't continue working and Dan was hastily written out as having disappeared with the family's savings.
 

tommie

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  • For example, after 23 years on the show, Coronation Street's original landlady Annie Walker's final scene (unbeknownst to all involved) was just her perusing some items at a bring and buy sale. After this was filmed, Doris Speed took time off from the show after taking ill when a tabloid revealed her true age to the nation. She had intended to return to the show but after a robbery at her home, she moved to a nursing home and the cake sale scene proved to be her last.
I had never heard of her before, but usually when people fib about their age they usually keep it in the 5 year range to keep it believable - she fibbed 15 years off her age! In all honesty, looking at pictures of her it's not as if she looked much younger for her age so I'm baffled she kept it up for so long.
 

Angela Channing

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In Crossroads, Benny was a major character and very popular with viewers. His final scene was going up a ladder to put a fairy on top of a Christmas tree and he was never seen again.
 

Carrie Fairchild

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I had never heard of her before, but usually when people fib about their age they usually keep it in the 5 year range to keep it believable - she fibbed 15 years off her age! In all honesty, looking at pictures of her it's not as if she looked much younger for her age so I'm baffled she kept it up for so long.
I may be wrong but I think the tabloids only really started to deep dive into soap star's lives in the early 80's. Prior to that, romance and scandal would have garnered headlines (like Julie Goodyear's husband leaving her on the day they got married) whereas something as trivial as an actor's true age wouldn't have been seen as worth reporting.
In Crossroads, Benny was a major character and very popular with viewers. His final scene was going up a ladder to put a fairy on top of a Christmas tree and he was never seen again.
Yes, I've seen that scene!! I think the show was prone to exits like this. I haven't seen it but I read that Nicola Freeman first left the show by going on holidays and then resigning via postcard!
 

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I had never heard of her before, but usually when people fib about their age they usually keep it in the 5 year range to keep it believable - she fibbed 15 years off her age! In all honesty, looking at pictures of her it's not as if she looked much younger for her age so I'm baffled she kept it up for so long.

The press probably did know but back in the day either respected her enough to keep quiet or wanted a good relationship with the press people at Corrie.

Only takes one person to rock the boat and the gloves are off.

There was an interesting documentary about the press and their relationship with the Royal family. Strands of that are probably also true for celebrities.
 

tommie

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The press probably did know but back in the day either respected her enough to keep quiet or wanted a good relationship with the press people at Corrie.

Only takes one person to rock the boat and the gloves are off.

There was an interesting documentary about the press and their relationship with the Royal family. Strands of that are probably also true for celebrities.

I think it might also be that female actors lying about their age is a bit like male actors lying about their height - it's just done and doesn't really harm anyone. 15 years is extreme though - I looked at early Coronation Street cast pictures and there's no way anyone bought that she was in her mid-40s!
 

Carrie Fairchild

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The press probably did know but back in the day either respected her enough to keep quiet or wanted a good relationship with the press people at Corrie.

Only takes one person to rock the boat and the gloves are off.

There was an interesting documentary about the press and their relationship with the Royal family. Strands of that are probably also true for celebrities.
I remember them talking about this in one of the soap documentaries (possibly Channel 4's How Soaps Changed The World). The blanket media coverage of the Ken - Deirdre - Mike love triangle in 1983 appears to have been the start of it but the arrival of EastEnders was the turning point when soap star's personal lives were seen as fair game by the tabloids and stories began appearing every day (Leslie Grantham's murder charge being one of the big stories at the time).
 

AndyB2008

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Moya O'Sullivan didn't get a proper exit from Neighbours.

Her character Marlene Kratz was sent on a 3 month cruise of all things and was never referred to again until the 2005 anniversary special. Not have they killed Marlene off screen given Moya's death.
 

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Tony Doyle didn't get the same either for Ballykissangel - rather than killing off Brian Quigley, it was explained as him faking his death and living in Brazil.

Sandy Harper exited Holby City by winning the lottery and emigrating to Australia off screen, following the death of Laura Sadler. The plotline was developed by Mal Young in consultation with Laura Sadler's mother.
 

Pamela_E

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I remember them talking about this in one of the soap documentaries (possibly Channel 4's How Soaps Changed The World). The blanket media coverage of the Ken - Deirdre - Mike love triangle in 1983 appears to have been the start of it but the arrival of EastEnders was the turning point when soap star's personal lives were seen as fair game by the tabloids and stories began appearing every day (Leslie Grantham's murder charge being one of the big stories at the time).

I thought it would have been before this with the shooting of JR on Dallas, that they knew soap stories sold newspapers.

But makes sense what you say as the tabloid press was at its worst in the 80's.

I'm sure actors like Leslie Grantham would never have got the role nowadays. Which is a shame, I wouldn't be surprised if Leslie's history was part of the reason he won the role of Den.

Doris Speed got off lightly with it just being her age, the press ripped lives to pieces of other soap stars. Vicious at times.
 

J. R.'s Piece

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I think it might also be that female actors lying about their age is a bit like male actors lying about their height - it's just done and doesn't really harm anyone. 15 years is extreme though - I looked at early Coronation Street cast pictures and there's no way anyone bought that she was in her mid-40s!

I’ve got a half-sibling who routinely knocks decades off it’s age. It’s adult children apparently still have no idea how old their parent is. Their parent tells lies about how it grew up, saying it grew up with me. Despite it growing up in a different country and being a fully-fledged adult, living on it’s own, over a hundred miles away when I was born. Although I don’t think it is on telly. Although that person seems like a nastier version of Terry Duckworth/Nick Cotton. But my mother’s other children were ordered to not reveal the true age of my half-sibling’s age to it’s litter. It nearly came out once, when one of it’s spawn said to me that I seemed far too young to be it’s parent’s half-sibling. I replied that I could theoretically have been a half-sibling that was younger than it’s issue and I was much closer in age to the sproglet than I was to it’s parent. Which came as a shock to the sproglet, who I then marched to my mother, who forced it to shut it’s cakehole and never mention the matter again. At that time, that was how I found out about the age lie. Although, going through some of my father’s secret files, there are documents with the true age on.

But with some actors, there birth ages aren’t immediately available online and they are listed by their playing age range, which can be quite different. In The Forsyte Saga, Kenneth More was two years older than the actor playing his character’s father.
 

J. R.'s Piece

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I thought it would have been before this with the shooting of JR on Dallas, that they knew soap stories sold newspapers.

But makes sense what you say as the tabloid press was at its worst in the 80's.

I'm sure actors like Leslie Grantham would never have got the role nowadays. Which is a shame, I wouldn't be surprised if Leslie's history was part of the reason he won the role of Den.

Doris Speed got off lightly with it just being her age, the press ripped lives to pieces of other soap stars. Vicious at times.
Well, with Leslie Grantham, Louise Jameson helped encourage his acting career, when he was in prison.
 

Carrie Fairchild

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On the subject of the Cottons, Dot looks unlikely to ever get a proper sendoff. June Brown went on a break and Dot was written out temporarily as having gone to visit her grandson in Ireland. June Brown then announced that she wouldn't be returning to the show, something that took the producers by surprise as they were expecting her to return.
 

ArchieLucasCarringtonEwing1989

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In Crossroads, Benny was a major character and very popular with viewers. His final scene was going up a ladder to put a fairy on top of a Christmas tree and he was never seen again.

Word on the street is that he’s still climbing that Xmas tree asking for Miss Diane’s help
 

pete lashmar

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On the subject of the Cottons, Dot looks unlikely to ever get a proper sendoff. June Brown went on a break and Dot was written out temporarily as having gone to visit her grandson in Ireland. June Brown then announced that she wouldn't be returning to the show, something that took the producers by surprise as they were expecting her to return.
It's been alleged that she took issue with the re-casting of one of the child actors (no idea who as I haven't watched soaps for many years - with the exception of Dallas re-watches). Insiders have differing opinions of why she chose not to return though.

It's a great shame as Dot was such a pivotal and well loved character. I assume that when the time comes Dot will be given the full East End send off.
 

Carrie Fairchild

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It's been alleged that she took issue with the re-casting of one of the child actors (no idea who as I haven't watched soaps for many years - with the exception of Dallas re-watches). Insiders have differing opinions of why she chose not to return though.

It's a great shame as Dot was such a pivotal and well loved character. I assume that when the time comes Dot will be given the full East End send off.
This actually rings a bell. I think it may have been the character of Dotty (Dot's supposed granddaughter) who'd been last seen as a child but returned to the show years later as an adult. She's played by a different actress now but I think the original child actress still works & this is why June took issue with her not being given the role. She left the show for a bit in the 90's too as she didn't agree with the killing off of original cast member Peter Dean. In addition to the above, she's 95 now, so you can understand why she'd be done with the show.
 
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