Dennis Tanner was a character in Coronation Street who first appeared in the first episode, Episode 1 (9 Dec 1960). He left in Ep 782 - 12 Jun 1968 but returned in Ep 7599 - 12 May 2011 after a 43 year absence, departing again three-years later in Ep 8437 - 30 Jul 2014. He was the original street bad boy and the son of Elsie Tanner and brother of Linda Cheveski.
Biography[edit | edit source]
Backstory[edit | edit source]
Dennis Tanner was born on the 1st April 1942 at Number 11 Coronation Street to Arnold Tanner and Elsie Tanner nee Grimshaw. Dennis was 2 years younger than his sister Linda Tanner. Dennis one time scrawled "Dennis Tanner 1951" on the window sill at the front of the house. As he got older, Dennis became a bit of a tearaway. In 1960, he was imprisoned in Borstal for theft.
1960–1968[edit | edit source]
In December 1960, Dennis was accused of theft but his sister had borrowed the money from their mother Elsie. Dennis had numerous relationships as well as dabbling in the showbiz industry. In March 1962, he dumped 2 sea lions in the bath of Jack Walker and Annie Walker, who ran The Rovers Return, Coronation Street. In December 1964, Dennis met up again with stripper and singer Rita Littlewood, whom he had known before, and were dancing together when news came through of President Kennedy's killing in November 1963. They had a brief romance. During the 1960s Dennis witnessed several altercations between his mother Elsie and her equally fiery neighbour Ena Sharples.
In 1968, Dennis met Jenny Sutton, who was a Londoner. They married in June 1968 and Dennis and Jenny decided to leave Weatherfield for a new life in Bristol. Dennis was not to return to Weatherfield for the next 43 years.
Inbetween 1968 and 2011[edit | edit source]
In May 1972, Rita Littlewood got chatting at a nightclub in Weatherfield to Elsie Tanner, and she mentioned her son Dennis, and Rita said she knew him a few years before. By 1972, Dennis was long gone from the area, living in Bristol. He split up with Jenny around this time.
In 1973, Dennis was imprisoned in Pentonville, London for fraud. Elsie visited him. Jenny now split up from him, and when Elsie believed she may have had something to do with Dennis' downfall, Jenny's father pointed out Elsie was as much to blame, and accused her of not being a good mother to Dennis.
Elsie remained on the street until late 1973 but she returned to Weatherfield in 1976 when her marriage to Alan Howard broke up, however Dennis never visited her in this time. They presumably reconciled after her move to Portugal and her marriage to Bill Gregory. What their relationship was like up to her and Bill's death in the mid-2000s is unknown.
Without Elsie to lean on, and his talent acts not as much in demand in the 21st Century, Dennis began to run out of luck and found himself homeless at the end of 2010. He became dishevelled and grew a beard.
2011–2014[edit | edit source]
In May 2011, Dennis was back in Weatherfield and was still sleeping rough. He had fallen on hard times and was
using the local soup kitchen which Sian Powers and Sophie Webster were working at. They befriended Dennis. One night Dennis walked to Coronation Street and looked at the "Dennis Tanner 1951" etching on the window ledge of No 11. Rita Sullivan saw him and thought he looked familiar. She asked him if she knew him. He ran off. Dennis and Rita later got chatting and she let him lodge with her. He had a wash and a shave. Dennis got employment at The Kabin, and soon clashed with Norris Cole.
In 2011, Dennis got chatting with Eileen Grimshaw who lived at No 11, where Dennis used to live with his mother Elsie. Dennis said that Elsie's maiden name was Grimshaw. Eileen had 2 children but at that time had never married. She told Dennis about her father Colin Grimshaw. They did some research into the family tree and found out that Elsie's father Arthur Grimshaw and Colin's father were brothers, thus making Dennis and Eileen related.
In June 2012, Dennis married Rita, 48 years after they first met. Dennis even developed a friendly feud with Steve McDonald. Dennis and Steve even squared up in an amusing way with other lollipop men. However Dennis soon became bored of his marriage to Rita and became interested in Gloria Price. They had an affair and in 2013, they both ran off.
Rita was shot of Dennis but in 2014 when he came back Rita forgave him but she saw him hugging another woman. In July 2014 Rita finally ditched Dennis. Feeling he had nothing left round the area, Dennis decided to leave Weatherfield in late July. He took one last look at No 11 and the 1951 graffiti "Dennis Tanner 1951". He was last seen walking down Coronation Street with a suitcase.
2015–2020[edit | edit source]
In November 2015, Dennis sent Rita divorce papers. His living conditions or lifestyle at that point was unknown.
By 2019, Dennis had lost all contact with Rita and all the residents of Coronation Street so his whereabouts were unknown. Rita still retains her married surname of Tanner. Dennis developed dementia.
Dennis passed away off-screen by early 2020, with his ashes being sent to Rita in the mail. Rita agreed to take the ashes to Blackpool to scatter him at sea, but the urn ended up being run over and Dennis' remains scattered all over the road.
Behind the Scenes[edit | edit source]
- Dennis is one of the original 21 characters introduced in the series and created by Tony Warren. Actor Philip Lowrie originally auditioned for the role of Ken Barlow which was lost to William Roache, but he got the part of Dennis Tanner. Originally Dennis was going to be a lot more villainous, but due to Lowrie's comedic talents the character was toned down significantly to become a more light hearted and funny character.
- Originally Dennis was supposed to be about 22 in 1960 (born 1938) but other sources later said he was born in April 1942 so only 18 in 1960.
- Lowrie left the show in 1962 due to the Equity Actor's Strike. After attempting to start a pop career, he returned to the role in 1963.
- Feeling frustrated with lack of development with Dennis, Lowrie quit the role in 1968, with the character departing in June that year. In 1971, Lowrie initially stated that he wasn't interested in returning to the role.
- In January 2011 it was announced Dennis would be returned to Coronation Street after 43-years. This idea came about when Barbara Knox (who plays Rita Sullivan) suggested that Dennis should return, which then-producer Phil Collinson agreed to. Dennis returned to the show homeless in May 2011, which Lowrie had praised as he felt it gave his character development.
- From June 1984 to May 2011, Ken Barlow remained the only character left in the show who had appeared in the very first episode, Episode 1 (9 Dec 1960). Albert Tatlock was last seen in January 1984 and died offscreen in May and Linda Cheveski returned briefly in 1984 but departed that June. From May 2011 to July 2014, Dennis Tanner returned, meaning Ken was again, not the only character left who appeared in the first ever episode, but he regained this title when Dennis left in July 2014. This will probably remain the case now, as many other original characters are either dead or unlikely to return.
- In December 2013, Dennis was axed by producer Stuart Blackburn. He departed seven-months later in July 2014.
- Philip Lowrie earned a record in 2011 for having the longest break as a television character, being 43-years. This beats Kenneth Cope who played Jed Stone, in which he was absent from the role for 42-years (1966 to 2008).
- Dennis was killed off-screen in February 2020 in order to tie with the programme's 10,000th episode. This makes him the most recent original character to be officially killed off in the show.
Family[edit | edit source]
Appearances: 9 December 1960–7 March 1962, 15 April 1963–12 June 1968, 12 May 2011–30 July 2014
Born: 1st April 1942
Died: February 2020 (Aged 77)
Father Arnold Tanner
Mother Elsie Tanner.
Siblings Linda Cheveski.