It was a dislodged breathing tube that did for Sunita Alahan (Shobna Gulati), who expired tonight in hospital following a visit from creepy Karl Munro (John Michie). But how does her exit compare to those who’ve gone before? Let’s take a look at those who’ve previously passed on in extraordinary circumstances:
10) Don Brennan – 1997 Don’s transformation from luckless cabbie into seemingly indestructible T-1000 killing machine climaxed as he wrought one final act of revenge upon “Mike flamin’ Baldwin”. But gunning Alma’s MG Midget Roadster in Baldwin’s direction only brought about his own demise. Cue an unlikely stunt roll from Mike and a fiery end for Don.
9) Lesley Kershaw – 2012 Last year, poor Lesley’s efforts to make cheese on toast in a toaster had terminal consequences when she transferred the appliance to the sink. Paramedics failed to bring her round and she was pronounced dead at the scene. For more electrical-based disasters, see Valerie Barlow below.
8) Valerie Barlow – 1971 The borders of Coronation Street have always been fiercely patrolled – threaten to stray and you’re likely to come to an abrupt end. So when Ken got a teaching job in Jamaica and he and his wife decided to emigrate, it was only ever going to finish badly. One faulty electrical outlet later and Val was a goner.
7) Ashley Peacock – 2010 What it lacked in surprise (actor Steven Arnold’s departure had been announced three months earlier), it made up for in poignancy: Ashley’s selfless death came about after he got Peter and Nick to safety following the tram derailment above the Joinery bar. There was just time for a tearful voicemail message to wife Claire before Ashley Sibelius Peacock went to that butcher’s shop in the sky after being consumed by falling viaduct wreckage.
6) Ernest Bishop – 1978 A shotgun blast finished off mild-mannered Ernie during a bungled raid at Mike Baldwin’s factory. The reason for the permanent exit? Actor Stephen Hancock had felt he had to resign from Granada over what he perceived as the unjust way contracts were handled, particularly with Corrie’s major stars. When the episode was aired, the switchboard jammed, letters of complaint arrived in their hundreds and the Lobby Against TV Violence objected to the episode being broadcast.
5) Brian Tilsley – 1989 When actor Christopher Quinten wanted to move to the US to marry then-fiancee Leeza Gibbons, he asked Corrie bosses whether he could stay on part time as hunky mechanic Brian. It was not to be: Brian was given a hero’s death after he was stabbed outside a nightclub while protecting a woman from some thugs. Quinten was next seen a year later as ‘Reporter #2’ in Robocop 2.
4) Alan Bradley – 1989 Nobody gets away with terrorising Kabin Queen Rita Fairclough! Nobody! After a long-running campaign of intimidation (he even tried to smother her with a cushion), villainous Alan was felled by a Blackpool tram. Twenty years later, actor Mark Eden marked the episode’s two-decade anniversary by unveiling a blue plaque outside the Strand Hotel, North Promenade, where much of the footage was filmed.
3) Maxine Peacock – 2003 After arriving home to find a scene worthy of a Wes Craven movie, Maxine was quick to realise that the seemingly urbane Richard Hillman was responsible for bashing Emily Bishop with a crowbar. Emily (aka Mumm-Ra the Ever Living) escaped with head injuries, but Maxine was not so lucky. Yes, she should definitely have stayed at the party…
2) Jez Quigley – 2000 Forget Hillman, Stape and Bradley – by far the best villain to ever add menace to Weatherfield was Gerald Francis Quigley. During his three-year reign, he killed Tony Horrocks and left his body to rot in a cellar, got Leanne addicted to cocaine and set about Steve in an underground car park. But a pasting from Jim “catch yerself on” McDonald resulted in Jez being taken from us after his spleen ruptured in hospital.
1) Martha Longhurst – 1964 When the Ena/Minnie/Martha trio in the Rovers snug was broken up, there was mutiny among the cast: they didn’t rehearse actress Lynne Carol’s exit scene, while co-star Peter Adamson (Len Fairclough) held off from saying “she’s dead” for as long as possible in the hope that the line would be removed in the edit suite. No such luck. “It was possibly the first time there was a feeling of ‘us’ and ‘them’,” remarked William Roache about the relationship between actors and producers.