Wednesday 13 November 2019

Barbara Knox: Still long way to go for Corrie’s Rita amid brain tumour diagnosis

The actress shared her thoughts on her much-loved character’s ill health after she was diagnosed with a brain tumour.

Barbara Knox.
Barbara Knox.

By Francesca Gosling

Coronation Street star Barbara Knox has promised there is still a “long way to go” for her character, Rita, after she was diagnosed with a brain tumour.

The revelation came in Monday night’s episode of the ITV soap, dispelling fans’ previous dementia speculation following weeks of worrying moments that saw Rita become forgetful and increasingly ill.

Her failing health culminated in a collapse at foster daughter Jenny Bradley’s hen do last week and she was rushed to hospital, where an MRI scan unveiled a lesion on her brain.

Knox, who has played Rita for more than 50 years, said: “When our producer Kate Oates talked to me about the brain tumour storyline for Rita, I was truly honoured to be tasked with taking on such an important story.

“As an actress playing the role I am mindful that there are people going through this in real life and it is vital that we do their stories justice.

“There is a long way to go yet in this storyline for Rita; as we follow her journey from the devastating diagnosis and how she comes to terms with the uncertainty of what the future holds for her, she has some big decisions to make in the coming weeks.

“Until I started working on this storyline I had no idea that a brain tumour could cause someone to act in the way Rita has been.

“It is a frightening disease and my thoughts are with everyone affected by a brain tumour.”

Amid viewer rumours that the story could spell the end of the 84-year-old actress’s time on the show, Sally Ann Matthews (Jenny), recently hinted that fans had better prepare themselves with “Kleenex and wine” as the story develops.

Creators have also taken advice from Brain Tumour Research to make sure the portrayal of Rita’s illness is accurate and to offer support to viewers who may be affected by similar situations.

The charity’s chief executive, Sue Farrington Smith MBE, said: “Some 16,000 people are diagnosed with a brain tumour in the UK each year, so we were pleased that Coronation Street approached us to advise on this storyline.

Barbara Knox with the Duchess of Cornwall on the Corrie set

“This disease is indiscriminate; brain tumours can affect anyone, at any age, while symptoms can vary significantly.

“Patients can experience confusion, like Rita, mood swings and depression amongst other things; unfortunately, there are cases where these symptoms are extreme.

“So little is understood about brain tumours and just 1% of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to this devastating disease.”

PA Media

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