Coronation Street is killing off a former regular character in a storyline set to have emotional repercussions for Audrey Roberts (Sue Nicholls) and Rita Tanner (Barbara Knox).
News reaches the cobbles on Friday 14 December that beloved local undertaker Archie Shuttleworth has died, with stylist Aud having to be the bearer of sad tidings to pal Rita. It’s been over eight years since the character last appeared, so why is this so significant to the Weatherfield veterans?
Mischievous funeral director Archie, played memorably by veteran entertainer Roy Hudd, made his Corrie debut in 2002 as the gentleman friend of legendary battle-axe Blanche Hunt (the late Maggie Jones). He struck up a professional arrangement with salon queen Audrey as he employed her to style hair on corpses to make his ‘clients’ look their best for their final journey. Having been a loyal support to Audrey through her ordeal with sinister son-in-law Richard Hillman, Archie proposed to Mrs Roberts but left the street heartbroken when she rejected him in 2003.
Three years later in 2006, Archie was back to organise the funeral of feared factory boss Mike Baldwin. Remaining on the show for another extended stint, the character pursued Kabin siren Rita and their brief not-quite romance put Audrey’s nose out of joint and fed into the Weatherfield womens’ on/off feud that stretches right back into their rivalry over Aud’s late hubby Alf Roberts.
Archie left again and made what was to be his final on-screen appearance in 2010 at the funeral of yet another Corrie favourite, Blanche herself.
Audrey will receive an unexpected windfall this Christmas, as teased in our recent festive preview, so can we assume Archie has left his old pal a surprise inheritance in his will? Unfortunately, Aud’s current beau Lewis Archer (Nigel Havers) will be plotting something in secret this Yuletide and Gail Platt (Helen Worth) is convinced her mum’s man is up to no good and wants his hands on the loot.
Does word of Archie’s demise kick start the beginning of the end for Audrey and Lewis if he does end up conning her yet again?