When Rita Sullivan's insurance policy matured in 1995, she treated herself and best friend Mavis Wilton to a Mediterranean cruise on the QE2. Having been in showbusiness herself, Rita was not impressed by the singing or piano skills of the entertainer Melody Lane but this was nothing compared to the sheer awfulness of her ventriloquism act when she was in front of a group of children and she literally gargled all the way through the "say the alphabet while drinking a glass of water" sequence. Rita suspected that Melody only got the job because she and entertainments manager Alec Gilroy were having a fling and word of this got back to Melody after Rita had made some caustic remarks. She asked Rita if she could have a quiet word and shocked her when she confessed her true secret - she was Alec's half-sister as the result of a liaison between his father and her mother. The two hadn't even met until she was twenty-seven, after which Alec helped the cash-strapped woman by finding work for her. Her own heart wasn't in entertainment as her real vocation was as a medium.

This confession led to Rita seeing Alec in a new light, not (always) as some grasping con-artist but as a man with hidden sentimentalities.

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