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Saturday 22 February 2014

Yay or Nay: Did Rita and Dennis work for you?

Last night saw Dennis Tanner leaving wife Rita for Gloria Price. Although, I heard Sharon Marshall on ITV’s This Morning the other day saying that Dennis will return. I don’t know if it’s a brief comeback or have the producers given the character a reprieve? Who knows?

But for me, the writing’s on the wall where the Tanners are concerned. They’ve reunited so many times in recent weeks it’s very hard to keep track of when they’re off or on so I feel that they’re better apart. Honestly, I’ve never seen them as a great couple. I like them as individual characters, but as a couple it felt awkward for me watching. I feel cheated since Dennis’ return almost three years ago. We were promised big things by Phil Collinson about the character and I was excited that maybe Dennis would inject some humour back into the oldies section of the show. We were promised that Dennis would ruffle Ken’s feathers. Yet, that never happened. I was glad that the gossip of a love triangle between Rita, Dennis and Emily weren’t true because these women aren’t attracted to the same kind of men. And his returning storyline of being homeless was dealt with in a few episodes, which I found annoying as there could’ve been more potential for it. We wanted to know what led to his downfall.

Another mistake I felt the producers did was immediately link Dennis with Rita. They invented this love story that dated back to 1964. Whereas, in reality, Rita only stayed with Dennis the one night and from what I can see they were just friends. A far more plausible scenario would’ve been for Emily to see Dennis in the homeless shelter and let him lodge with her. And then at the Rovers, Dennis would happen to see Rita and they’d catch up. Emily recalled that she walked in on Rita at No.11 back in 1964. But in that particular episode, Emily didn’t even appear! 

Whereas I accepted Rita taking in Dennis as an old friend, I felt uncomfortable when it was revealed that they would fall in love. The age gap didn’t concern me – Rita’s been with younger men that herself in the past like Alan Bradley, Fred Elliott and Colin Grimshaw. The fact was that Rita had been married to Len Fairclough, who had a long history with Dennis’ mother Elsie. Rita had a love/hate relationship with Elsie due to her friendship with Len. And for that on-screen history between Rita and Dennis’ mother I felt uncomfortable with the pairing. I would’ve been more comfortable to see Dennis embark on a relationship with Sylvia, Audrey or Gloria and maintain a strong friendship with Rita. Phil Collinson wanted to see another Mrs Tanner on the street and felt that Rita was the one to suit the bill. Realistically, I couldn’t imagine Rita wanting to have the same surname as her one-time rival.

Having got them married and having got his wish of a Mrs Tanner treading the cobbles once again, Collinson soon forgot about the couple and we quickly realised that the producers weren’t dedicated to the success of the couple. Dennis was quickly labelled the hen-pecked husband, living on Rita’s hand-outs. He tried to find some fun in life that was usually dampened by an uncharacteristically boring Rita. Possibly Dennis soon realised that the Rita he knew back in the day had changed and maybe regretted marrying her? Rita herself told Bet Lynch in 2002 that she had changed whereas Bet was still the same. The Rita of today is a far cry from the Rita of the 1970s and 1980s. She had an edge and was cheekier whereas now she's content on sitting in the Rovers with Emily and winding up Norris in the Kabin. She was linked to more rough characters like Len, Bet and Elsie and Alan Bradley. But when she became Mrs Sullivan she changed. She became more of a lady – her choice of men changed from the rough and ready to gentlemen like Ted Sullivan, Fred Elliott, Anthony Stephens and Archie Shuttleworth. Like Bet, Dennis hasn’t changed with age – he hasn’t morphed into Ken Barlow. And with that, possibly the gap between Dennis and Rita was there from the start.

And so, for me, it’s a big nay. I think Stuart Blackburn did us a favour separating the two characters but I am sorry that they’re thinking of axing Dennis because as a character he’s got potential, but not with Rita. Yes, they can maintain a friendship but what about associating Dennis with other characters and having his own storylines and ventures instead of just with Rita. And as a historian, I have also been annoyed at the lack of mentions to the past we’ve had from Dennis with other characters. Elsie’s been mentioned sometimes and a reference was made to Martha Longhurst. No mention was given when he first walked into the Rovers and seeing the changes to the place. No mention of the Walkers or the snug. It’s been criminal that the scenes between him and Ken and Emily were so low – they could’ve reminisced about Albert Tatlock, Frank and Ida, David, Leonard Swindley and Gamma Garments. Dennis could’ve mentioned Valerie to Peter in a poignant moment or reminisced with Gail and Deirdre about Elsie. He could’ve walked into the Corner Shop and say “Eh, what would Lionel Petty say about this place?” So much potential lost. 

What’s your verdict on the Tanners? I’d love to hear your thoughts and sorry for rambling on!

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Anonymous said...

I would say "nay".
I would have preferred them to have remained as friends.
It was one thing for Rita to befriend Dennis and help him get back on his feet, but after their marriage the relationship steadily deteriorated into a mere tolerance of one another. Dennis does have more get up and go than Rita, Rita wanted companionship only, and all we saw was Dennis trying to please Rita, and Rita becoming more and more uncharacteristically miserable toward Dennis.
I can see him with Gloria, at least for a while, maybe after his blast with the past, he'll come back, but if not, I'm sorry that this was the only storyline for Dennis.

Humpty Dumpty said...

Rita and Dennis never appeared to be sexually attracted to each other and that's why it didn't work for me. Same applied to Lloyd and Mandy, and that pair didn't last long either. Although there isn't too much of an age gap, Dennis is a young at heart/immature 70 something, and Rita is (now, at least) a frumpy 80 something. Dennis's protestations that he finds Rita irresistible don't ring true. They plod along rather than have good times together as a newly wed couple. Rita should have a platonic male companion in the mould of Alf Roberts to go to the theatre etc, and Dennis would have been better paired with Gloria right from the start.

Anonymous said...

They never worked for me. There seemed to be little backstory for Dennis' years off the street. Odd to have little mention of Elsie, Linda, etc when there were characters that had links to them. Rita and Dennis didn't really have any chemistry as a couple and she just belittled and nagged him after such a short time of marriage. I think Gloria could have been written better, with more subtle nuances of complexity instead of being a cardboard flighty" type. It was the same old same old in every scene. No one is only one thing all the time. I hope that he and Gloria are written to be enjoying their travels and not have him come back with his tail between his legs. It's the least the character deserves after all the daft storylines and Nagging Rita mithering about the price of hairgel!!--Smelloid

Barrie.T said...

Nay from me too. It was criminal to bring back Dennis Tanner and then have him not speak for the first 12 months. Pethaps the 21 y/o storyliners hadn't seen any of the 60's corrie to know how to write for him. Rita & Elsie didn't really get on so it odd that she is now a Tanner. I would have liked to have seen him be a likeable liar & con man and flirt with all the ladies. Thats what he did in the 60's. It's good that corrie has some oldies in it especially with ties to the past so i hope he comes back and gets re-invented.

Anonymous said...

Rita acted more like his mother or big sister than wife/lover IMO. She really wasn't nice to him at all near the end. The writers should have left them as friends. The whole thing was doomed from the get go. Dennis was more convincing with Gloria. They both seemed o want to grab onto whatever years they have left and have some fun. Rita was more content to stand behind counter doling out words of wisdom and lately - stalking Tina which I found very creepy. Too bad about Dennis/Gloria leaving. Hopefully they'll be back - they made a good team..far better than the pairing of Dennis and Rita. Now Rita will join the scorned women ranks of Eileen and Julie, all black sack cloth and ashes.

Anonymous said...

I agree that there would have been far more interest in seeing Gloria and Dennis lead their lives, packing as much fun in as they could.

Those well-chosen photos say it all.

I guess Dennis and Gloria leave us to imagine what they will get up to, and where, whereas I think we all know just what will predictably happen with Rita ho- hum.

Hannah said...

I think gloria and Dennis deserve each other Dennis was horrible to Rita

Frosty the Snowman said...

NAY - Dennis may have had his faults but he wasnt a bad bloke - very saddened that this character was let go without being developed yet we get the same old exhausted characters getting their contracts renewed over and over again. He was a fine actor from the old days and its a pitiful shame. Rita who was once a fun and kindly character has been morphed into a santimonous boring old harridan who bullied, belitted and tried to control Dennis and never let him forget that she rescued him from Sophies Soup Kithchen. They should have stayed as old friends and they were both ruined with the rather needless marraige.

Zagg said...

I say nay. They never worked as a couple in my opinion. It was at times tough to watch Rita treating Dennis like a child. She had an old mindset, he had a young mindset. I always saw her more of a mother figure than a wife. And,she has been horrible to him in these last months.
It's too bad really. They wasted his character.

Anonymous said...

I agree that the character Dennis was wasted, and that after the interest generated among some of us of his return after decades away.
I agree he could have done much more, and actually would have been good teemed up with Gloria, but yet Rita remains who has turned into all of what she's already been described as being.
Don't the writers want any of the 'mature' ladies of the street to have happiness with a man?
Audrey, Gail, Julie, Eileen, Rita...

Newfy Pearl said...

It would have been nice if Dennis had breathed life into Rita...instead she sucked the life out of him.
Glad that is over!
The writers had a lovely opportunity and let it slip away...more than that - they destroyed it.
Rita is now a very unlikeable unsympathetic character...what good was that to the show?

Newfy Pearl said...

Here is a thought - bring back Gloria and Dennis and send Rita to an old age home.
The wise looking older woman with a twinkle in her eye that provided words of wisdom when needed - thanks to poor writing - now looks like an intolerant old woman with no humor or likeability. Way to go writers! Tsk tsk.

Anonymous said...

Have to wonder if Rita's declining personality change is in any way connected to a future story; maybe maybe Barbara Knox is thinking of retiring?
In any case, not many viewers have seen her in such a bad light as have done recently, and I'm not blaming Dennis for that!

Rosie said...

Nay! They just weren't right together, shame Dennis has gone. I was looking forward to 'Summer Wine' moments, OAPs getting up to silly nonsense like Jack, Fred Gee and Alec did, I loved Alec. There was so much more he could do.

Unknown said...

Nice post. Alot of potential was lost - it's such a shame. They seem to just have the elder cast as overpaid extras at the moment. And now making their humour at the expense of others i.e. Rita & Norris, although yes the jokes are funny, alot more can be done it seems as though that is all they are good for. The elder cast (bar Rita who seems to get the storylines) needs to get alot more storylines and show the talent that is there. Dennis & Rita were a good pairing for a time in my opinion but I agree that he didn't integrate enough for me at the beginning: he just went off with Rita more or less at the beginning much to the dislike of Norris. But I would have liked to have seen an elderly couple stay constant and be together on the street. Be a bit more realistic - as everyone seems to be either cheating, lying or stealing - things the writers must assume us viewers are interested in. And I also think it was an easy opt out to axe Dennis' character, just because they couldn't think of what else to do with him. Rubbish. So much more could've been done - but they rather parade the younger cast in our face cheating and arguing. No thanks! But the writers won't care for our opinions really, they'll still be doing as they please, hoping we still tune in.

njblas said...

So many missed opportunities with Dennis...his sister Linda never even got a mention, and we never saw him chat with Gail about Elsie. Elsie was Nick Tilsley's godmother and even that was never mentioned. His familial links to Eileen and Julie was acknowledged, and then ignored. The writers should hang their heads in shame that they didn't come up with any storylines for Dennis and Rita after they married. The actors were capable of so much, instead we have the likes of Stella, Tina and Peter thrust in front of the camera constantly with their predictable plotlines. It's all very discouraging:(

Anonymous said...

Another comment that has been posted got me thinking about the disaster that was the Rita and Dennis marriage. When the push was made to have another Mrs. Tanner on the Street, it seems like Rita's character was written to morph into the cross and abrupt was that Elsie dealt with Dennis (and anyone else who may have annoyed her). It's as though taking the name led to the hijacking of Rita's personality.


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