Although he began his working life as a member of the sorting office staff at the GPO, Alf's life changed drastically when his wife Phyllis died of cancer in September 1972 and when he was selected as Mayor of Weatherfield on 15th January 1973 for a one year term, at the time intended to be the final person to hold the position. On 20th March 1978, Alf married Corner Shop owner Renee Bradshaw, and the following year left the GPO to help Renee at the shop. In July 1980, the Roberts sold the shop in preparation for a move, but when Renee was killed in a car accident on 30th July of that year, Alf held onto the shop and ran it himself, putting his heart and soul into the place. His proudest achievement was the conversion of the shop into a mini-market in 1985.
Later that year, he married hairdresser Audrey Potter. While they loved each other, Alf and Audrey often clashed over Alf's unwillingness to spend money on luxuries even though they could afford it. He was always satisfied with the cheaper option and horrified Audrey by buying 11 Coronation Street against her wishes. In 1989, Alf was pushed into buying a semi-detached house in Grassmere Drive, which was much more to Audrey's taste. One matter where Alf refused to budge however was the shop, which he bought in 1993, despite having sold it earlier in the year, as he loved it so much. He sold it for good in 1994.
Alf served as Councillor for many years and worked on the committee at the Community Centre. After losing his seat to Deirdre Barlow in 1987 Alf suffered a heart attack - the first of several health problems which afflicted Alf later in his life. In 1994, he was chosen as Mayor again, and in 1995 his community and charity work was recognised with the O.B.E. He died on New Year's Day 1999 when he suffered a massive stroke while attending Audrey's grandson Nick Tilsley's birthday party.
Born Alfred Roberts on 7th October 1926 to Sidney and Eileen Roberts. In May 1945 Alf joined the 7th Cheshire Regiment and served with them until his demobilisation. Alf then followed in his older brother Malcolm's footsteps by getting a job with the GPO.
Malcolm died in 1949, leaving his wife Phyllis (nee Plant) a young widow. Alf and Phyllis were married the following year, Alf proposing more out of a sense of duty than any real romantic attachment. In 1972 Phyllis died of cancer.
The following year Alf proposed to Maggie Clegg, who had become a close friend during Phyllis' illness, only to be disappointed when she turned him down.
In 1961 Alf attended the wedding of his friend Harry Hewitt. It was here that he was to introduce Elsie Tanner to Alan Howard. Later that year, whilst on a darts team outing, Alf became extremely drunk and was arrested when his rowdy behaviour was noted by a passing police officer.
1975 saw Alf become infatuated with a fellow GPO worker Donna Parker. Briefly she moved into his flat and when he learnt of her dreams of starting a hairdressing business he gave her £500. She then promptly disappeared.
Alf and Renee - And Beyond...
In 1976 Renee Bradshaw came into Alf's life. She had bought the corner shop, and a friendship developed between the two otherwise lonely individuals. Alf's first proposal of marriage to Renee was turned down as he had been drunk at the time. The second was accepted after some soul searching.
The wedding of Alf and Renee, in 1978, did not go smoothly. The stag night was a rowdy affair during which Len Fairclough was arrested. At the reception Alf came to blows with Joe Hibbert, Renee's stepfather, over accusations that Alf was marrying Renee only because she owned the shop. Alf was disconcerted to learn that when he moved into the flat above the corner shop his wife's lodger, Bet Lynch, would continue to live with them.
The following year Alf was injured when a lorry had crashed into the Rovers Return. Alf sustained serious head injuries and lay in a coma for three days. As a result of the injuries Alf began to have mood swings leading to violent outbursts and nearly ended his second marriage. Receiving counselling and taking medication Alf was able to recover from the injuries and was delighted to receive compensation for his injuries - £800.
Alf retired from the post office shortly after the accident, receiving a pension of £2000 a year, plus a £6000 lump sum.
In 1980 Alf became a widower for the second time. Renee was involved in a car crash - whilst Alf was teaching her to drive - and died shortly afterwards. Alf inherited the corner shop.
In 1985 after Alf converted the corner shop into a self service mini-mart he attempted to expand the shop, intending to expand into some of the property next door if Hilda Ogden were willing to sell to him. Alf was furious when he found out that his builder, Les Pringle, tried to scare Hilda into selling the property and abandoned the plan. When the minor conversion work was completed the shop was re-opened and after the ceremony a drunk Alf proposed marriage again, this time to his friend Rita Sullivan, who turned him down.
Alf and Audrey
In 1981 Audrey Potter began running a hairdressing service out of the back room of the store. When Alf painted Renee's name out of the sign above the shop door it was a sign to many that Alf had moved on. He quickly proposed to Audrey, who turned him down.
However, in 1985 Audrey returned to the area with the intention of settling down. She set out to get Alf's attention and they married on the 23rd December, honeymooning in Paris. Alf's third stag night was more peaceful than his second, if not without incident. Alf accidentally ruined Percy Sugden's prize Christmas Pudding by sitting on it. The couple lived at No. 11 for five years before moving to a classier semi-detached house at 5 Grassmere Drive.
Alf sold the corner shop in 1993 to Brendan Scott for the asking price of £68,000. Alf's chosen memento of his time in the shop was the Bacon Slicer, which he took with him at the close of day. His retirement didn't last long when, after Brendan Scott died, Alf bought the shop back, thus spoiling Audrey's plans to move to Lytham St Annes.
Alf became a councillor in the late 1960s and then Mayor of Weatherfield in 1973. In desperation, he turned to Annie Walker to fill the role of Mayoral Consort. Annie considered this a great honour and fulfilled her duties admirably. Alf was involved in a minor road accident soon after becoming mayor, in which the son of the lady who was involved, but unhurt, attempted to blackmail Alf into paying £200 to keep the story out of the papers. Bet Gilroy forced the blackmailer, Norman Leach, to return the money.
Alf continued to fulfil his duties as a councillor until 1987 when Deirdre Barlow stood against him and won. Alf suffered a heart attack after this and Audrey accused Deirdre of being responsible. Alf slowly recovered and won his seat back in 1991.
Alf's second term as Mayor, in 1994, was the cause of friction between him and Audrey. Initially hurt when Audrey laughed at the idea, Alf considered Rita Sullivan for the role of mayoress, until Audrey intervened. Audrey enjoyed the attention the role brought her and took part in an official visit to France, where fellow attendee Fred Elliott made moves on her. Uncomfortable with Audrey's flirting with the official chauffeur, Alf stopped using the limousine provided for them. Audrey was eventually replaced as Mayoral consort by Betty Williams.
In recognition of his council work Alf was awarded the O.B.E. The council announced plans to rename Coronation Street in his honour, but the local residents complained and the plan was dropped.
Death and beyond
Alf died of a heart attack attending a New Year's party at the home of his daughter-in-law, Gail Platt. Alf was later cremated.
When Audrey later dated Keith Appleyard it was clear that the attraction was mostly because he reminded her of Alf. When Keith found Alf's distinctive trilby when cleaning out Audrey's garage, Audrey became distressed to see Keith joking around and posing in it, insisting he took it off.
Audrey also became convinced that Alf had had an affair with Rita Sullivan when she found photographs that seemed to imply they had become intimate whilst on holiday together. It later was proved that the film had been in the camera so long that the negatives had become corrupted and the photos were two separate images combined.
When Audrey's grandson David Platt planned to stitch Gary Windass up by breaking into Audrey's home, he removed various personal items so Gary wouldn't know who lived there. He stopped to look at a large painting of Alf in his Mayor's outfit, and smirked that he knew there was no way Gary would know who Alf was.
- You could meet Alf Roberts riding on a horse in the middle of the Sahara Desert and still know he was a grocer. - Audrey Potter
- The comedian Peter Kay has referred to himself as looking like 'a young Alf Roberts'.