A reluctant father, Alan missed eight years of Jenny's life after leaving her mother Pat in 1978. Pat's death in a road accident brought Alan back into the fold, when Jenny was fourteen. With Jenny, and her foster mother Rita, Alan found he had a ready-made family, but over time he began to resent Rita due to her money and her refusal to marry him, causing him to cheat on her multiple times with Gloria Todd and Carole Burns.
In 1989, Alan posed as Rita's late husband Len in order to borrow £15,000 for his burglar alarm shop, Weatherfield Security Systems, using Rita's house as security for the loan. When Rita exposed him as a fraud, Alan tried to suffocate her and was spent six months in prison when the police apprehended him. Upon his release, Alan tormented Rita, following her to Blackpool where he was fatally struck by a tram.
1939-1986: Choosing a path
Alan Bradley was born on 20th July 1939. In 1971, he and his wife Pat welcomed a daughter, Jenny. Alan was his own master; he liked the free life of a bachelor and spent little time at home. In part this was because his job installing air conditioning systems took him all over the country. In 1978, Alan and Pat split up and Alan left home, not to see Jenny again for eight years. He and Pat were subsequently divorced. By 1986, Alan was living in digs in Scarcroft, near Leeds.
Alan was traced by Social Services in January 1986 when Pat was killed in a road accident. Now fourteen, Jenny was being fostered by Rita Fairclough in Weatherfield. Alan came over from Leeds to collect his daughter, but Jenny resented him for abandoning her. With Rita's help, Alan convinced Jenny to give him a chance. He got a transfer to Weatherfield and got a flat at 41 Ashdale Road so that Jenny could live with him without changing school.
Alan had been seeing a lot of Rita and he was attracted to her; she was mature, strong and owned her own business. Alan in turn reminded Rita of Len because of his masculinity and aggressiveness. As they got closer, Alan had doubts about their relationship, and also became close to Rovers Return barmaid Gloria Todd after finding her a flat in his building. Gloria was youthful and glamorous; a woman he could more easily take charge of than he could Rita. Alan thumped Terry Duckworth in the Rovers when he'd been pestering Gloria. He dated both women without either's knowledge, but Rita wanting to take things slowly meant that he slept with Gloria first. The women eventually conferred and realised he was two-timing them. Rita told Alan to pick one or the other and stop being childish, however Gloria made up his mind for him as, insulted by the affair, she finished with him. Alan returned to Rita and they managed to put their rocky start behind them.
1986-1988: Family man
In September 1986, Alan was made redundant and his pride kept him from telling Rita, although she found out anyway from Mavis Riley. A new job came up in Liverpool, and Rita convinced Alan to take it even though it meant three months in Dubai, with Jenny moving in with Rita.
Alan returned in January 1987 to the news that Jenny had been in a car crash and that the driver Martin Platt had been speeding. Alan wanted to thump Martin but Jenny then admitted that she'd been driving. Martin and Jenny confessed to the police, with a little persuasion from Alan, but Rita refused to press charges so nothing came of it. Alan thanked Rita and told her he would compensate her from the money he was earning in Dubai. He then cemented their relationship by proposing, expecting her to say yes because of her age. He was astonished when she said no and that she preferred that they carried on as they were.
After returning from Dubai, Alan moved into 7 Coronation Street with Rita and Jenny. He then took an interest in The Kabin, opening a video library and electric till there to modernise the establishment. His changes worried Mavis as she feared Alan was worming his way into the Kabin as he'd wormed his way into Rita's affections, and that he might have her replaced, although he threatened Derek Wilton when Derek spoke to him on Mavis's behalf. Rita then told Alan not to make any more changes.
Alan felt emasculated by being second to Rita financially and decided to buy Tilsley's Garage when Brian Tilsley made plans to move down south, but at the last minute Brian pulled out of the sale and reconciled with Gail. Alan still had his heart set on marrying Rita and, thinking she just needed a push, booked a wedding at the registry office without telling her, and got her there under the pretext that they had been invited to a friend's wedding. When they got there, Rita couldn't believe it when the penny dropped that it was her own surprise wedding, and got back into the taxi she came in. Alan felt humiliated and accepted that Rita would probably never marry him.
With Jenny now sixteen, she decided to leave school, but Alan wanted her to stay and complete her A-Levels. Alan and Rita later found out that Jenny had gone to France to escape them trying to tell her what to do. A furious Alan went to France to find her, but he came back empty-handed. She returned to the country in October 1987 with the news that she was marrying Patrice Podevin and settling in France. Alan thought Jenny was too young and immature to get married and refused to give his blessing. He was proved right as Jenny kissed another boy, Gary Grimshaw, and Patrice broke off the engagement and went back to France alone.
1988-1989: Alan's downfall
Alan was bored running the video library. In 1988, he found a job fitting burglar alarms. He wanted to go into partnership with his boss Dave Craig and asked Rita to loan him £6,000 to buy into the business, but Dave wasn't interested. Alan decided to set up on his own, creating Bradley Securities Limited, and used Rita's money to buy a company car. Rita wasn't happy but agreed to give Alan a chance, setting him up in Len's old Builder's Yard so he could start making money.
In the summer, Alan started seeing client Carole Burns on the side. He left Rita for her, telling Rita that he was tired of her coldness towards him. Rita demanded he return the money she'd foolishly given to him and vacate the yard. Alan moved out of No.7 and complied with Rita's demands - although his business was effectively over as the bank and Carole both refused him a loan. In November, he left Carole and returned to Rita and Jenny, proving to Rita that it wasn't her money he'd come back for by announcing plans to set up a shop without a penny from her. He stole the deeds to No.7 and mortgaged the house for £15,000, calling himself Len Fairclough, which was the name on the deeds. With the cheque in hand, Alan told Rita that the bank had given him a loan, and he immediately transferred his business to a shop unit in Curzon Street, renaming it Weatherfield Security Systems to cover his tracks with the building society.
Alan did everything to keep the truth from Rita. He had all letters from the bank re-directed to the shop and handled all mail and phone calls himself. With Dawn Prescott as receptionist and Martin Platt as assistant, the business was a success.
Alan fancied Dawn and asked her out, telling her Rita was just his landlady, but she wasn't interested. This only encouraged him and in March 1989 he tried to rape her, although she managed to escape. The incident proved to be Alan's downfall as Dawn told Rita about the rape attempt and the letters and phone calls asking for Leonard Fairclough. Rita investigated and when Alan returned home on Jenny's 18th birthday he learned that Rita had been to the building society and found out the conditions of his bank loan and put them right about Len being dead. Alan's fury erupted and he went for Rita, hitting her and then trying to suffocate her with a cushion just as Jenny and Martin returned from the party, which caused him to flee.
Alan decided to leave the country and phoned Jenny, asking her to meet him and give him his passport and money, but the police followed her (without her knowledge) and arrested him. Alan was charged with deception and actual bodily harm and spent six months on remand. When Jenny visited Alan in prison, he asked her to beg Rita to play down what had happened, but Jenny realised he was only thinking about himself and ignored his wishes.
Alan's trial took place in October. Pleading guilty to deception and actual bodily harm, Alan was given two years in prison, with one suspended, but walked free that very day after serving enough of his time on remand and with time off for good behaviour. Rita was horrified and became convinced Alan was going to take revenge on her.
Alan set about tormenting Rita. He visited her at home while she was alone - explaining that he was there to see Jenny - ignored her requests to leave, and intimidated her, leaving her shaken and terrified. He moved into a bedsit at 31 Redford Street and got a job working for Maurice Jones at the building site in Coronation Street, opposite Rita's house, to stay close to her. He told Jenny he was staying around as he still cared about Rita and Jenny accepted this, slowly turning against Rita who she thought was being vindictive.
When The Kabin was broken into, Alan was taken in for questioning by the police, but the police soon caught some lads trying to sell videos stolen from The Kabin and Alan was cleared. A few weeks later, Rita disappeared without a trace, and Alan was again questioned by the police. The residents thought Alan had killed Rita and buried her at the building site, but even though nothing was found when the site was dug up, Alan lost his job because of the trouble it had caused with the police. Alan was bitter and blamed Rita for ruining her life. When Alec Gilroy informed Alan that Rita had turned up in Blackpool, Alan drove to the seaside town to find her and bring her back to Weatherfield to prove to everyone that he didn't kill her. He couldn't find her at her hotel but he caught up with her on the street and tried to force her into his car. Rita ran away and only narrowly missed being hit by a tram - following closely behind, Alan was killed instantly when the tram slammed into him.
- "Women want a bloke they can look up to and all they find are wimps. It doesn't matter how liberated they are, deep down they all want the bloke to take charge." - Alan
Alan was ambitious and malignant: a recipe for disaster. He was misogynistic towards women and in his relationships he liked to call the shots; he hated being beholden to Rita and compensated for this by building up his business so that he would not need her money. However, with regards to women and work Alan was restless and when his passions had been spent on something he would move onto something else. Often this was because he'd messed things up - through deceit or because of his short temper - but whenever he did, Alan always put the blame on someone else. Despite appearances, he had no real love for Rita or for Jenny, valuing them only as long as they stayed loyal to him; when they betrayed him he turned against them.
Alan Bradley was Mark Eden's second Coronation Street role, after Wally Randle in 1981. Eden's guest turn had left an impression on producer Bill Podmore, which led to him getting the role of Alan four years later.
One of Alan's early storylines was a love triangle between Alan, Rita Fairclough and Gloria Todd. In The Coronation Street Story (1995), Eden recalled how he rationalised the character's actions: "Gloria had the youth and the glamour and Rita had this lovely calmness and security. Gloria only worked at the pub but Rita had much more. If you could combine the two women... that's what Alan felt" (p178). Eden and Sue Jenkins had previously appeared on stage together in Educating Rita.
David Liddiment became executive producer in 1988, and a handover period between producers Podmore and Mervyn Watson took place in late 1988 and early 1989. In an interview for 50 Years of Coronation Street: The (very) Unofficial Story, Liddiment discussed the genesis of Alan's fraud storyline: "I think Alan Bradley was kind of going nowhere. He was a good actor but there weren't great stories coming up for him. There's a dangerous place in Coronation Street, the middling place he was in, and if the writers aren't inspired to come up with good stories for you, you're a dead duck. Peter Whalley had this notion that he would pretend to be Len Fairclough, which was the original name on the deeds of Rita's house. I thought that was a very clever idea. Once he'd deceived his wife, you can start to build on that. It wasn't, "Let's turn Alan Bradley into an evil person." In his 1990 memoirs Coronation Street: The Inside Story, Podmore describes the idea as a "masterstroke", although he laments the fact that this meant losing Alan: "I knew Mark was very happy with the programme, so it was with anything but relish that I broke the news that he would have to go. Mark accepted the decision with complete professionalism, agreeing that the story-line was irresistible. At least it gave him the chance to turn in a series of very meaty performances before he went."
Eden enjoyed portraying Alan's darker side. In The Coronation Street Story, he talks about how he played the scenes of Alan trying to rape Dawn Prescott: "I thought I'm not going to do anything near to what I'm going to do when we do it on tape, because she'd be prepared for it... So on the actual take I grabbed hold of her and she couldn't get away from me and I started to pull her skirt up. She was fighting for her life to get away, I mean she wasn't kidding. We were knocking things over and she shoved me off and I grabbed her as she was running out of the door... afterwards, she was shaking and white-faced but it worked."
Eden also faced the negative side of playing a villain in Coronation Street: "He received sackloads of hate mail, and after an incensed lady set about him with an umbrella, Mark thought it prudent to curtail his regular strolls around Manchester. When he did venture out, he had the look of a hunted man, and eyed anyone who recognised him with caution" (Podmore).
Alan was absent for six months during 1989 as a story consequence of his fraud and assault on Rita. The week of his trial and release from prison was the first of the programme's new three-times weekly schedule. Alan met his end in Blackpool when he was hit by a tram while chasing Rita, in one of the programme's most famous moments. According to The Coronation Street Story, shortly after the episode went out, someone put a plaque by the railings where Alan died, reading "Alan Bradley the sham got knocked over by a tram". As of 2008, the tram used in the episode was still in service in Blackpool. On 8th December 2009, Mark Eden unveiled a blue plaque to mark the episode's 20-year anniversary outside the Strand Hotel, the venue chosen for the filming of much of the footage. Alan's exit was ranked 30th on Sky One's 50 Greatest TV Endings in 2008 and 8th on ITV's 50 Years, 50 Moments anniversary countdown in 2010.
In Coronation Street - The Epic Novel, which changes a few details within the history of Coronation Street, Alan is arrested after his attack on Rita, and his death doesn't occur in the book, nor is it mentioned.
First and last lines
"Mrs Fairclough?" (First line)
"Come back, you stupid bitch!" (Final line, to Rita)