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Friday 19 April 2013

Corrie A-Z: B is for Bigamy

While Corrie has always been big on weddings, it has sometimes touched upon the subject of bigamy. The first time it did so was 33 years ago.

The residents were shocked when Emily Bishop announced her engagement to pet shop owner Arnold Swain in 1980 after a whirlwind romance. Many, including Emily herself, thought she was destined to be a widow after the murder of hubby Ernie two years prior.

Their romance began when Arnold became Emily’s client at her secretarial and bookkeeping bureau and over time they became close and he proposed. Although reluctant at first, Emily accepted and became Mrs Swain in September 1980. They settled into married life but within three months it hit a snag. While Emily was looking after Arnold’s shop, an insurance man called by to say that Arnold’s wife Margaret wanted to finish her policy. Emily was stunned to find that Arnold was a bigamist.

When confronted, Arnold’s response was that his marriage to Margaret had ended on their honeymoon back in 1965 but Emily wasn’t having any of it and told him to leave. She reverted to Ernest’s name and put his wedding ring back on. A few months later an unstable Arnold returned. Emily’s rejection had affected him greatly and he wanted them to die in a suicide pact. He held Emily hostage but she managed to escape. Although Arnold fled, he was later arrested and admitted to a mental hospital where he died. He left £2000 to Emily in his will but she used the money to buy a hospital bed.

Twenty one years later the subject of bigamy was revisited. This time, butcher and then-Rovers landlord Fred Elliott was the victim. The serial proposer had proposed to Linda Baldwin’s mother Eve Sykes and they married in 2001. She then persuaded him to buy Mike Baldwin’s and Duggie Ferguson’s share of the pub who were in a partnership with him. They lived in bliss above the Rovers until Fred became suspicious of Eve seeing another man. He confronted the man only to find out he was Eve’s husband Ray Sykes.

Ray and Eve hadn’t bothered to divorce even though they were estranged. Fred and Eve rowed before he threw her out of the pub and their marriage was annulled. It’s fair to say that Fred didn’t have a good marriage record: first wife Sybil died, second wife Maureen left him after a week and third wife Eve turned out to be a bigamist!

Knowing Ken Barlow has a long list of conquests; it was no surprise when his son Peter committed bigamy in 2003. He had been in a relationship with Rovers barmaid Shelley Unwin and decided to marry her. Shelley was aware he’d been in a relationship with another woman but he promised that that was over. Peter and Shelley did marry. But the truth was Peter hadn’t ended his relationship with florist Lucy Richards – he’d actually married her before marrying Shelley. And now Lucy was pregnant with Simon! The only one who knew of Peter’s secret was his step-sister Tracy.

Although Lucy did turn up to see Shelley’s wedding, unaware that it was Peter who was marrying her, the day wasn’t ruined. But Lucy turned up in the Rovers months later and was stunned when she saw Shelley and Peter’s wedding photos. A furious Lucy broke the bad news of Peter’s bigamy to Shelley by showing their wedding photos. Let’s say that Shelley wasn’t pleased and punched Peter in the Rovers to the delight of the Rovers. Peter had planned to join Lucy and baby Simon on their move to Australia but Lucy sought revenge and left without him. This was the first time that viewers had seen both weddings taking place and then following the marriages. In previous bigamy storylines, we’d only seen one side of the story.

Peter’s marriage to Shelley was annulled while he divorced Lucy and left the street, his tail between his legs. He returned to the street in 2008 with Simon after Lucy died of cancer. Shelley had left the street in 2006 so there were no links to his bigamous past.

The following year, bigamy was touched upon in the Mad Maya storyline when Maya Sharma pretended to be Sunita Alahan and married several illegal immigrants in a bid to quash Sunita’s marriage to Maya’s ex, Dev. When that plan failed, she famously burned all of Dev’s shops and nearly killed the Alahans in the process. Maya is later sent to jail for her trial and she has never been mentioned since. 

There has been no bigamy storyline since then. Would you like another one? What about if Dennis Tanner was still married to first wife Jenny and was bigamously married to Rita? Now, there’s an interesting story!
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