Leonard Franklin Fairclough was a character in Coronation Street from Episode 14 (25 Jan 1961) to Ep 2307 - 11 May 1983. He was a major character in the series, and initially was handy with his fists, and even occasionally hit women such as when he hit Elsie Tanner in the late 1960s, but Len mellowed as he got older, and was also a respected councillor. He was best friends with Alf Roberts and was married to Rita Bates from 1977 to 1983 when he was killed in a car accident in December 1983. Len was played by Peter Adamson. Due to the actor Peter's dispute with the Coronation Street producer Bill Podmore, the character of Len was demonised when it was revealed he was having an affair when he died.
Leonard Franklin Fairclough was born on the 5th November 1924 in Liverpool. He was the only child of Ned Fairclough and Grace Fairclough (Nee Franklin). Len's middle name was his mother's maiden name. Len was a tearaway as he grew up, and was even nicknamed "Tearaway Len". His parents died when their house was bombed during World War Two. Aged 17, Len joined the Navy. After he left the Navy, Len moved to Weatherfield in Salford and married Nellie Bailey on the 12th July 1949. Len had a son Stanley Fairclough in 1950. Len was a builder and had a quick temper and was handy with his fists.
Len arrived in Coronation Street in January 1961. He was a local builder and he drunk at The Rovers Return. In February 1962, Len was angry at Ken Barlow for slamming his working class roots in a local newspaper. Ken had gone to university and seemed to think he was better than his roots. They had a row and this lead to an altercation, Len hit Ken, Ken then hit Len and threw him to the floor. In the end Len threw the last punch and left the pub. However, Ken and Len put their differences behind them afterwards. Len then hired Jerry Booth as a labourer. In 1965 they became partners. Len's on off fling with Elsie Tanner continued for years. Len even hit Elsie once, and got berated by Jack Walker for it. In 1970, Len sported a moustache.
In 1972 Len became friendly with Rita Bates. He even clashed with her common law husband Harry Bates and was even beaten by Harry in a fight. Len became good friends with Alf Roberts. In 1974 Stan wanted to borrow some money from a local fund for Hilda to take a holiday away but Len suggested Blackpool, and the money was to be put to better use. In January 1975, Lynn Johnson came to see Len, as she was a battered wife, and Len was a Councillor. Len was in a hurry and eventually lost patience with her and told her to wait until he returns as he had a very urgent letter to deliver. Neighbours had heard raised voices. Len then went to deliver the letter. While Len was out, Lynn's husband Roy Johnson followed her and beat her to death, and Len was arrested on suspicion of her murder, as Ken and Janet said they heard arguing coming from next door, but Roy soon admitted to the murder. Len married Rita in 1977. In 1978, Len almost thumped Joe Dawson for grassing him up over the new cafe not having proper toilet facilities. In 1980, Rita left Len but she then returned to him. In 1982, Len and Rita took in foster child Sharon Gaskell. In 1982, Len had No 7 Coronation Street rebuilt. Len was last seen onscreen in May 1983 playing darts in the Rovers.
In December 1983 Len died in a car accident when going to see his mistress Marjorie Proctor, much to the distress of Rita. The truth emerged just after Len died. Len was supposed to be on a job in Ashton, which is East Manchester but his car was found by the roadside in Bolton, which is north west of Manchester, long from where he was supposed to be. Mavis has her suspicions and so did Rita. Rita then found a Bolton phone number on a beer mat in Len's pocket. Rita found that Len was somewhere that he did not want her to know about. She rung the number and got through to Marjorie. She then met Marjorie but it did not tarnish her memory of Len.
Despite him having an affair, Rita continued to love her husband.
In the late 1980s, Rita's boyfriend Alan Bradley impersonated the late Len in order to remortgage the house to set up a business. When Rita found out his deceit, he attempted to murder her, however was unsuccessful.
Photos of Len appear at Rita's flat No.10a Coronation Street, and she has mentioned him several times.
In 2017 Rita (suffering at the time from a brain tumour) believed that Len was still alive and waited for him to come home, causing concern for her flat mate Gemma Winter, who couldn't bring herself to tell Rita that Len has been long dead.
- Peter Adamson played the character of Len for over 20 years. In February 1983, he was suspended from the show for selling stories about his fellow cast members. He was given a warning and returned to filming. In April 1983 he was arrested for alleged sex abuse claims. He was cleared of the charges but he sold his memoirs and was sacked due to breach of contract. This meant his character had to be written out of the show, so Len was mentioned for several months but never seen, and the character was killed off December that year (off-screen). This meant Len was another major character who never got a proper farewell storyline. To add insult to injury, the writers attempted to demonise Len by revealing he was returning home from an affair on the night he died. Despite this though, Rita would continue to fondly remember her husband, despite his faults.
List of addresses
Born: 5 November 1924, Liverpool, Lancashire, England
Died: 2nd December 1983 (Aged 59)
Full Name: Leonard Franklin Fairclough
Children: Stanley Fairclough (1950)