ALF ROBERTS (87 VOTES)
Duration: 1961-1963, 1967, 1971-1999
Played by: Bryan Mosley
2012 character poll position (men): 18
My all-time favourite male character.
First appeared as a GPO worked with Ken Barlow’s dad Frank. He was a recurring character until 1971.
Thrice married, first wife Phyllis died in 1972. He married Corner Shop owner Renee Bradshaw in 1978. Accidents played an active role in their marriage: Alf was injured when a lorry crashed into the Rovers in 1979 and Renee was killed in a car/lorry collision in 1980. Alf inherited the shop upon Renee’s death and thus became the king of Corrie’s Corner Shop for nearly 15 years.
Third wife Audrey Potter was quite different to Renee. She was flighty and enjoyed spending all of Alf’s money. As Alf was a frugal man, Audrey was his perfect foil. Viewers enjoyed their marriage as it included a lot of humour and they had the chemistry that Alf and Renee lacked. Audrey was annoyed that she often came second best in Alf’s life, behind the shop. The shop was Alf’s world and he was sad when Audrey persuaded him to retire in 1993. But upon new owner Brendan Scott’s death, he purchased it again but sold it to Reg Holdsworth in 1994.
Alf’s other delight of course was being a Weatherfield councillor, a job that he held between the late 1960s and 1987 and then from 1991 to 1998. He lost his seat in 1987 to his former shop assistant Deirdre Barlow. The shock of losing triggered a heart attack. He successfully regained the seat from Deirdre in 1991. He was elected as mayor twice: in 1973 and 1994. Annie Walker was his first mayoress and then Betty Turpin (replacing Audrey). Alf retired from the council in 1998 and wife Audrey succeeded him.
Despite being thrice married, Alf also had two significant relationships with other Corrie women. He befriended shopkeeper Maggie Clegg in 1971 and even proposed marriage in 1974, only for her to reject. Then in 1984 he fell for recently widowed Rita Fairclough and proposed to her in 1985. She also rejected and told him she considered him a very dear friend. But despite later marrying Audrey, he often told Rita that she was the woman for him and would happily leave Audrey for her. Rita rebuffed every time.
By the 1990s, Bryan Mosley’s ill health greatly reduced Alf’s scenes, which ultimately led to Alf retiring from the shop. Worried about his health, producers decided to write Alf out in 1998 and he peacefully passed away on New Year’s Day 1999. Sadly, six weeks later Mosley himself passed away.
Were you a fan of grocer Alf and his trilby hat?
Deirdre: A Life on Coronation Street - official ITV tribute to a soap icon. Available here.
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