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Wednesday, 15 November, 2000, 11:20 GMT
Boozy threat to Rovers Return
Denise Welch (Natalie Barnes) and Debs Brownlow (Gabrielle Glaister)
The Rovers faces being sold in a new storyline
Coronation Street's Rovers Return pub faces a change of name in a dramatic storyline in the ITV soap next month.

Viewers will see pregnant landlady Natalie Barnes decide to sell the bar, which has played host to many of the programme's most dramatic scenes.

Natalie Barnes, played by actress Denise Welch
Landlady Natalie Barnes will shock Street residents and viewers with her decision
She announces that the pub, focal point of the programme for 40 years, will be sold off to a national company called The Boozy Chain, which wants to call it The Boozy Newt.

Outraged staff including Vera Duckworth - a former landlady herself - then join a campaign to save the Rovers.

Barmaid Betty Williams refuses to work there in protest.

In September it was announced 42-year-old actress Denise Welch, who plays Barnes, is leaving the soap at the end of the year.

Welch is expecting her baby in March and producers at Granada Television promised she would be given an explosive farewell.

Vera Duckworth, played by actress Liz Dawn
Vera Duckworth will react in horror to the proposed name change
A Granada spokeswoman confirmed to BBC News Online the Rovers would "come under threat" next month, when the series celebrates its 40th anniversary with a host of special editions.

One episode will be broadcast live, while the Prince of Wales - who is visiting the set - has been invited to appear on the show.

The storyline reflects a trend taking place across the UK, where traditional locals have been converted into theme bars or have become part of large chains.

The Campaign For Real Ale pressure group welcomed the storyline.

"It isn't in the interests of locals or regulars when large chains take over pubs," spokesman Jonathan Mail said.

"If the Rovers Return was bought by a chain it could have an outside manager imposed on it, and it would become like any other town centre pub in the country."

In Coronation Street lore, The Rovers Return dates back to 1902 and has had 12 landlords, including Annie Walker, Bet Lynch and Jack and Vera Duckworth.

  • Frisky, the cat who appears in the soap's opening titles, has died of cancer. The tabby and white tom, who was 14, featured in the sequence for 10 years.
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