Corrie star Barbara Knox celebrates her 90th birthday with special tribute documentary


Coronation Street royalty Barbara Knox will celebrate her milestone 90th birthday in a very special one off documentary set to air this Friday.

The actress, who has played the iconic Rita Tanner for more than half a century, will join Bradley Walsh as she looks back on the highlights from an illustrious career in television and theatre.

Taking Barbara by surprise during a party with all her co-stars, Bradley will explore the star’s life as he takes her on a trip down memory lane, including a visit to Blackpool where she filmed some memorable soap scenes.

Discussing the documentary, Bradley said: ‘I’m thrilled not just to surprise Barbara but to take her on a trip down memory lane and relive some of the great moments of her career and her life prior to being on Coronation Street.’

Barbara turned 90 on September 30 but the actress isn’t ready for retirement yet after she signed her contract to continue her iconic role into 2024.

Happy Birthday: Coronation Street star Barbara Knox will celebrate her 90th birthday with a special tribute documentary alongside Bradley Walsh and another Weatherfield legend who is set to return to the cobbles

Happy Birthday: Coronation Street star Barbara Knox will celebrate her 90th birthday with a special tribute documentary alongside Bradley Walsh and another Weatherfield legend who is set to return to the cobbles

Legendary: The actress has played the iconic Rita Tanner continuously for more than half a century (pictured on the soap in 1978)

Legendary: The actress has played the iconic Rita Tanner continuously for more than half a century (pictured on the soap in 1978)

And it seems Barbara is set to receive the best birthday present yet, as it has also been revealed a huge Coronation Street legend is also returning to the cobbles. 

The street gossip Norris Cole, played by Malcolm Hebden, 83, will return to Weatherfield after quitting the soap three years ago as part of Barbara’s documentary.

She will also be reunited with her on and off screen pal Thelma Barlow, who played Mavis Wilton, her Corrie co-star for over 25 years.

Malcolm joined the soap in 1994 and featured in over 1,600 episodes as the soap’s much-loved busy body. 

The actor bid a fond farewell to his character as he announced his retirement after 27 years in 2021, after only making a handful of appearances on the Cobbles since recovering from a near-fatal heart attack in 2017.

Norris was killed off the soap after they previously wrote that he had been moved to a retirement home.

Yet Malcolm is set to make a surprise appearance as he has agreed to come out of retirement to film the special for the milestone 90th.

In the special, Malcolm opens up on leaving and admits he misses the soap. 

Surprise! Bradley surprised Barbara during a party with all her co-stars

Surprise! Bradley surprised Barbara during a party with all her co-stars

Reminiscing: Bradley will explore the star's life as he takes her on a trip down memory lane that includes a visit to Blackpool

Reminiscing: Bradley will explore the star’s life as he takes her on a trip down memory lane that includes a visit to Blackpool

Life in the old dog yet! Barbara turned 90 on September 30 but the actress isn't ready for retirement yet after she signed her contract to continue her iconic role into 2024

Life in the old dog yet! Barbara turned 90 on September 30 but the actress isn’t ready for retirement yet after she signed her contract to continue her iconic role into 2024 

It's Norris! The street gossip Norris Cole, played by Malcolm Hebden, 83, will return to Weatherfield after quitting the soap three years ago as part of Barbara's documentary (pictured on the soap in 2017)

It’s Norris! The street gossip Norris Cole, played by Malcolm Hebden, 83, will return to Weatherfield after quitting the soap three years ago as part of Barbara’s documentary (pictured on the soap in 2017)

Friends: Discussing working with long-term colleague Barbara, Malcolm said: 'We had an awful lot of good laughs on set and off. I couldn't have worked with anybody better'

Friends: Discussing working with long-term colleague Barbara, Malcolm said: ‘We had an awful lot of good laughs on set and off. I couldn’t have worked with anybody better’

Adorable! She will also be reunited with her on and off screen pal Thelma Barlow, who played Mavis Wilton

Adorable! She will also be reunited with her on and off screen pal Thelma Barlow, who played Mavis Wilton

Besties: The pair were Corrie co-stars for over 25 years (pictured in 1994)

Besties: The pair were Corrie co-stars for over 25 years (pictured in 1994)

He confessed: ‘I miss work. This is a day out for me.’ 

Discussing working with long-term colleague Barbara he said: ‘We had an awful lot of good laughs on set and off. I couldn’t have worked with anybody better.’

Speaking to The Sun about his retirement at the time, Malcolm said: ‘I absolutely adored playing Norris and I was pleased to be able to return briefly after my operation.

‘It took a great deal of courage to make the decision to retire. But I had come to realise that although the mind was willing the body was not so much.’ 

Malcolm made his choice last summer, with a Coronation Street spokesperson stating: ‘Malcolm made the decision to retire and leave the show during the summer of 2020 for health reasons.’

Soap producer Iain McLeod described Malcolm’s exit from the soap as ‘desperately sad’ before going on to praise the actor for his contribution to the soap.

He said: ‘Norris became an all-time great character, whose lemon-lipped barbs will be remembered forever.

‘I know a nation of soap lovers will be desperately sad to think they’ve seen the last of Norris but in his brilliant double-acts with Emily, Rita and more recently Mary, Malcolm has left us with countless fantastic memories in the show.’

Barbara Knox at 90 will air Friday at 9pm on ITV1 & ITVX .



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