Arnold Henry Swain was the proprietor of Swain's Pet Shop who bigamously married Emily Bishop in 1980. He died in a mental hospital in 1981, after unsuccessfully trying to coerce Emily into joining him in a suicide pact.
Arnold Swain was a man who knew what he wanted from life but brushed over the mistakes he made a little too easily. One of his tendencies was to disregard other people's feelings or push them to get his way - something which meant he wasn't always popular but some forgave him as he was charming.
Arnold married Margaret in 1965 and they honeymooned on the Isle of Wight. The union apparently did not work out as Arnold walked out on Margaret after the honeymoon, but told other people that she had left him. They stayed married, but after a while Arnold started telling people that Margaret was dead (later explaining that in his mind, she was).
By 1980, Arnold owned a pet shop and ran it with his spinster sister Flora, who he also lived with. In April of that year, he met widow Emily Bishop when he hired the Coronation Street Secretarial Bureau to do the shop's books. Arnold took a shine to Emily and asked her out - an invitation the shy Emily accepted when she found a poem Arnold had written which impressed her. Emily hadn't been with anyone since her husband Ernest died two years previously and hadn't expected another man to take an interest in her but was very flattered and kept on seeing Arnold, which delighted him. In fact, Emily was so surprised at first that she worried he might be interested in her finances, but her fears were quelled when Deirdre Langton checked Arnold's finances and learned that he had his money well invested.
A few weeks later - a short time by any standards - Arnold proposed to Emily. Emily initially turned him down, feeling he was rushing her, but Arnold was persistent, turning to Emily's lodger Deirdre for advice. Emily was resolute that she would never marry Arnold but changed her mind when Deirdre pointed out the benefits of being married again, and that Arnold obviously loved her, so when he asked again, Emily accepted. Their engagement party at 3 Coronation Street (Emily's house) was eventful as a fire at No.11 occurred at the same time, and Hilda Ogden broke up the party to get help.
As Emily was religious, she was worried about Arnold's intention to marry in a Registry Office and not a church. The matter was settled with a coin toss, which Arnold won. They got married on 10th September, with best man George Turner getting Arnold drunk the night before, and went on their honeymoon in Shanklin - at the same hotel where Arnold had taken Margaret.
Arnold then began making plans for the future. He firstly insisted that Deirdre and her daughter Tracy vacate No.3 so that he and Emily could have their privacy - but his plans didn't stop there; he thought they could do better than Coronation Street and started trying to persuade Emily to move to a country cottage. Emily wasn't convinced but Arnold started telling the neighbours that they were moving, fobbing Emily off by telling her that she would eventually change her mind.
In October, Arnold was involved in a dispute with builder Len Fairclough when Len fitted a door at No.3 which hurt Emily when she put her hand through the glass, which resulted in her having six stitches in her hand. Arnold confronted Len in the Rovers, threatening to sue him, but decided to settle for not paying him for the work. Len offered to repair the door if Arnold paid the initial fee. With Arnold still refusing, Emily paid the bill herself, but let Arnold believe that Len had repaired it himself for free. He was furious to learn the truth.
The truth about Arnold's previous marriage finally came out in December. When Arnold had to go Birmingham on business, Emily looked after the shop. She was behind the counter when an insurance man called asking her to tell Arnold that Mrs Swain wanted to finish her policy. Emily confirmed that this was referring to his wife, who was very much alive. On Arnold's return, Emily showed him the insurance form and questioned him. Arnold explained that Margaret was dead to him, and that she was never a consideration when he married Emily. Arnold broke down when Emily told him to leave as he wasn't her husband; he was a bigamist. Arnold then walked out of Emily's life.
Arnold's life then fell to pieces. He was stung to find out Emily had reported him to the police and entered her house in March 1981, waiting for her to return. In the months between, Arnold had been affected by his ordeal and had become obsessed with Emily. Trapping her in the house, Arnold told Emily that he wanted them to die together in a suicide pact so they could be with God. Emily was terrified as he was obviously mentally disturbed but played along with it as when he let her go upstairs to fetch her Bible she ran out of the house. Knowing the game was up, Arnold fled. He later contacted Emily and asked her to meet him at the park, but when she showed up she was accompanied by the police. Arnold was admitted to a psychiatric hospital, where he died at the end of the year, days after Emily turned down an invitation to see him. Arnold left Emily £2,000 in his will.
First and last linesEdit
"Of course you do. Don't be silly we have our future to discuss. I'll be at the lake in the park at 5:30, I shall expect you to be there Emily." (Final line)
- Arnold Swain was George Waring's fifth role in Coronation Street, after PC Hartley in 1966, Ronald Wilde in 1968, Mr Davies in 1973 and Councillor Tattersall in 1977.
- Waring didn't know the full details of his character's storyline when he started as Arnold Swain: "I was just told that he was a chap who ran a pet shop and was to start an association with Emily. I played him without the foreknowledge that he was a bit of a dubious devil. Then when the change came the character did alter a lot."
- Waring returned for three episodes in March 1981 to close the storyline. For these scenes, the actor decided not to research mental illness and instead rely on cues from the script: "They were very well written scenes. They were a joy to play, so they gave me a good send-off."
List of appearancesEdit