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"Oh I've waited a long time to do this!
~ Dennis to his rival Norris Cole before he punches him for constantly meddling in his relationship with Rita Turner

Dennis Tanner was a fictional character of the British soap opera Coronation Street. He originally debuted in the 1960s, first appearing from the first episode in December 1960 before departing in 1968. He later returned in the modern age of Coronation Street from 2011 to 2014. In both stints, Dennis wasn't a villainous antagonist but still developed self-serving traits who at times left his beloved partner Rita Turner pinning over his antics.

He was portrayed by Philip Lowrie.

Biography

Dennis Tanner is the son of Elsie Tanner and Arnold Tanner. In his youth, he was a trouble maker who would commit crimes such as stealing and breaking into shops of houses, which would drive his mother mad - who was raising her family alone after Dennis's father abandoned the household following World War II. In early 1960 (just prior to the events of the show starting), Dennis was arrested along with his partner in crime Jed Stone for robbing a shop, and were sentenced to a young offenders for several months. Several weeks before the first episode, Dennis was released from prison, but had no interest in honest work and would laze about the house and give his mother cheek.

In the first episode, Dennis was accused by his mother for stealing money out of her purse, although he denied it. Dennis was cleared of all wrong doing when it turned out his sister Linda had borrowed the money to buy shopping, much to Elsie's guilt. In the first several episodes Dennis made attempts to better himself, and got a proper job at a nightclub, where he met his troublesome father for the first time in 15 years.

Dennis remained clean throughout most of his original stint in the show, apart from pulling off quick rich schemes which would normally land himself in trouble with the residents and annoy Elsie. When he decided to leave in 1968 for a sales job in Bristol, he got married to a woman named Jenny and departed on good terms with his family.

But life wasn't looking up for Dennis, as in 1973 he used his position to con old age pensioners out of all their savings. He was caught for the act and got locked up for three years. An embarrassed Elsie visited him in prison off-screen, but chose not to disclose to her neighbours what her son had done. The act also caused Dennis's wife to leave him, and the pair eventually divorced.

An elderly Dennis returned back to the show in 2011, in which he was homeless after falling hard on his luck. He reunited with old flame Rita Sullivan (formerly Littlewood), who had been living on the street for 40 years. Dennis moved in with her and cleaned himself up, and although they shared romantic feelings (which they would take further with a proper relationship and then a marriage), Dennis would normally let Rita keep him and not put any money into the household. It also turned out that he had done this with another woman a couple of years prior, he moved in with her for her money before then abandoning her at the wedding. Despite this previous action, he remained with Rita.

In late 2013 Dennis got bored and wanted to have an adventure. He fell for neighbour Gloria Price - the mother of pub landlady Stella - and chose to run off with her for a new life abroad, leaving Rita devastated and betrayed. But realising Gloria was quite controlling, Dennis returned back to the United Kingdom with his tail between his legs, and ended back on the streets. After being beaten up, he was visited by Rita in hospital, he took pity on Dennis and allowed him to move in temporarily.

Dennis planned to win Rita back, but realising his attempts may be futile, he chose to finally leave the street. He went to the Kabin newsagents hoping to say goodbye to Rita, only to be confronted by his enemy Norris Cole, who called out Dennis for leeching off Rita for these past few years, and that she was better off without him. Angry, Dennis punched Norris to the ground, and attempted to rob the till. He was caught by Rita, who ordered Dennis to put the money back, before then throwing him out of the shop.

Before leaving the street, Dennis said goodbye to his niece Julie Carp, before then departing for good. He later sent Rita divorce papers, marking the permanent end to their marriage.

A few years later, Dennis began to battle dementia. After passing away, his ashes were sent to a stunned Rita, with a request to scatter them in Blackpool.

Trivia

  • When originally conceived, show's writer and creator Tony Warren intended Dennis to be far more villainous and would have been a major villain in the show. But due to actor Philip Lowrie's comedic talents, but criminal behaviour was toned down a lot and he became a lovable rogue. The character was quite a popular with viewers, as well as the production team during his original appearance in the 1960s. However, actor Philip Lowrie grew dissatisfied with the role due to Dennis having lack of character development, which was a factor in him leaving originally in 1968. Despite this, he would still speak fondly about his time working on the show.
  • Dennis appeared to have a feud with Ken Barlow in the first episode due to their contrasting personalities and lifestyle (with Ken being polite and educated unlike Dennis), but this quickly fizzled out and the pair would become friends.
  • Dennis was reintroduced in 2011 after a 43 year absence from the programme, with Philip Lowrie being brought back to reprise the role. He earned a world record for this large gap.
  • Dennis was axed in late 2013 by producer Stuart Blackburn, who felt Dennis should get some sort of comeuppance for his bad behaviour in the past. This decision was unpopular with the viewers, but regardless Dennis left in mid-2014. He was later killed off-screen in February 2020 as part of the 10,000th episode of the show.
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