Let's face it: we've all been there.
It's another chapter in the book marked Audrey Roberts: My Hilarious Love Life. Poor Audrey. She's had a hard life. A teenage mother (twice), she's had to put up with her husband dying, her best friend dying, and being related to both Gail and David. Throughout it all she's kept her head held high - well, her hair held high, anyway, thanks to a rampant addiction to hairspray.
She first appeared in 1979 at Gail's engagement party (her first one), showing herself to be something of a good-time girl. You can imagine how well this went down with Ivy Tilsley, a woman who thought Queen Victoria was a bit of a tart, and she added Audrey to the already lengthy list of reasons why Gail was wrong for Her Brian.
Audrey then departed the series, because Sue Nicholls had to go and appear in another piece of quality British television: Rentaghost. For viewers of a certain age Audrey will always be Miss Popov, the sneezing Dutch woman whose powers of teleportation lead to all sorts of hilarious consequences, often involving a pantomime horse.
Rentaghost was finally axed when BBC research discovered that kids found Timothy Claypole disturbing, not funny, and so Sue was free to return to the cobbles. She almost immediately focussed her attentions on ensnaring Alf Roberts, because if there's one thing every woman needs, it's a wealthy grocer with a heart condition. Alf fell for her joie de vivre and sparkling wit, while all the time Audrey was wondering how much she could get for his mayoral chains at Cash4Gold.
As time went on, Audrey fell more and more in love with Alfie, and when he finally popped off to the Cash and Carry in the sky she was bereft. By this time she'd acquired a hairdressing salon of her own, where she could spend her days leafing through the appointment book with a cup of coffee in her hand. Her best friend by now was Alma, another smoky eyed Sixties survivor with a penchant for big hair. The two of them could regularly be found knocking back the G&Ts while they complained about their stupidly rich husbands and their nice homes.
With Alfie safely stowed away underground, Audrey entered the new millennium with her eye out for a new husband. It's become a rite of passage for any moderately successful middle aged man to have a pop at Audrey; she's a sort of welcoming committee for the male menopausal. Fred Elliott, butcher extraordinaire, fell most heavily under her spell, but she refused to marry him because she could never be happy with a man who smelt of offal. Despite this, he continued to hold a torch, slipping her an extra couple of kidneys whenever Ashley's back was turned, and Audrey tacitly encouraged the devotion.
During all this Gail was married to a serial killer called Richard Hillman; Audrey was the only one who saw through his smooth lines and realised he was a wrong 'un. Richard embarked on an elaborate plot to convince everyone that Audrey was senile, though why he didn't just crack her on the back of the head with a length of piping like all his other victims is beyond me. Perhaps he realised it would take a SCUD missile to get through all those layers of hair. Eventually Audrey was proved right and Richard was revealed to be a sociopath. You'd think this experience would have stayed with her, but when Maria made similar accusations about Tony Gordon, Audrey told her to stop being a silly girl and keep quiet. Mind you, it was Maria.
Heartache intervened when her best friend, Alma, succumbed to cancer; she was with her right to the end, and promised to rename the salon Alma's in her memory. This was then quietly shelved when she realised that "Alma" is an even less glamorous name than "Audrey". The salon's continued liquidity is in the meantime a mystery to everyone else; it somehow supports three stylists even though the only business they ever get is Emily coming in to have a trim. Perhaps Audrey is managing to keep it afloat single handedly with her Elnett purchases.
Fred had rebuilt his love life, and was just about to marry Bev Unwin when Audrey dropped the bombshell; she wished it was her at the end of the aisle instead. Fred was confused and dismayed, and promptly fell down dead in her hallway, solving the problem for everyone. She moved on instead to Bill Webster, having a mucky affair with him while his wife was in Germany; he ended up moving in, but there's only so many ways you can have a conversation about plywood before you get bored, and she dumped him on a weekend in France.
For a while, Audrey was alone, her only job in the soap to roll her eyes in dismay whenever David smashed something up. Her hopes of rekindling an old romance were dashed when Ted Paige turned up and revealed that after their night of passion, he decided to be gay: an understandable reaction when you consider that his one heterosexual experience resulted in Gail. She eventually decided she'd had enough of this and hired Nigel Havers to be her boyfriend, a course of action why many a middle-aged lady has dreamt about over her Lean Cuisine. Nigel tried to be good, but he just wasn't a one-woman man, and after a snog with Dierdre Barlow he fled to Greece with Audrey's savings. No wonder she started to consider Mark to be a catch. Ok, he spent his weekends miming to Judy Live at Carnegie Hall in a floor-length ball gown, but at least he had his own bank account.
So now Audrey is alone once again, though I doubt it will be for long. Give it a couple of weeks and she'll be all over Dennis Tanner like a particularly rampant case of Japanese Knotweed. It's a choice between him and Norris, and let's face it, she's not that desperate. At least, not yet.