1. Schmeichel (Coronation Street)
As the Grim Reaper beckons Schmeichel for a walk in that great park in the sky, his bereft owner Chesney can take comfort in having been a devoted owner ever since the pup was left on Tyrone’s doorstep in 2004. He was a gift from “Mad” Maya Sharma, who felt guilty after kidnapping Tyrone’s greyhound. Named after Manchester’s other Great Dane, goalkeeper Peter, Schmeichel’s life has been so exhausting – run over, taken into RSPCA care and sold by Ches’s mercenary mum Cilla – that over the years he’s been played by four dogs.
2. Bobby (Coronation Street)
Not to be confused with Mrs Slocombe’s pussy, Minnie Caldwell’s cat was the first feline resident of Coronation Street, living at No 5 with Minnie in the 1960s until he went missing and was replaced by a stray that Minnie eventually renamed Bobby. (This storyline explained Bobby’s changing appearance, played as he was by several different cats.)
3. Batley (Emmerdale)
Edna’s Yorkshire terrier Batley, played by the bitch Bracken, is the only animal ever to win a British Soap Award – for best exit in 2002, beating Corrie’s Alma Halliwell (Amanda Barrie) and EastEnders’ Steve Owen (Martin Kemp). Batley, who had cancer, was put down on screen by Paddy the Vet.
4. Leanne (Coronation Street)
Named after his dad’s girlfriend by Simon Barlow, Leanne the rabbit provided a distraction for the littlest Barlow when he wasn’t asking if he could go to Alton Towers. When Leanne died in 2009, she was buried in the Websters’ back garden. Not to be confused with Trevor Jordache, who was buried under
a patio in Brookside.
5. Wellard (EastEnders)
Despite the name (“well hard”), Wellard was played for 14 years from 1994 by three generations of bitch from one Belgian Tervuren family – Chancer, Zenna and Kyte. Owned by Robbie Jackson, “he” was passed to Gus when Robbie left, to Mickey when Gus left, then Shirley, then back to the Jacksons. He had to be put down in 2008 after Bianca accidentally did for him by feeding him chocolate. Having bitten Ian Beale on the buttock in 2005, this seemed a cruel fate indeed.
6. Willy (EastEnders)
Ethel Skinner’s “little Willy” was part of Walford from the show’s 1985 launch until his on-screen death in 1992. While famous for providing Ethel with her double entendre, “Has anyone seen my Willy?” and for scoffing meat at inopportune moments – the Fowler Christmas turkey in 1990 – Willy’s biggest storyline was perhaps his 1986 dognapping.
7. Harry/Harriet (Coronation Street)
Never mind Hayley Cropper, the first soap sex change was actually Mavis Riley’s budgie in 1982, renamed after it laid an egg.