Renee purchased the shop in part to provide her younger brother Terry Bradshaw with a home and keep him in line. She arrived with big ideas for the emporium, turning it into an off-licence and opening on Sundays within the first year. In 1978 she married Alf, and the following year he retired from the GPO to join Renee behind the counter, somewhat against her will.
In 1980, the Robertses decided to sell up and buy a bigger shop in the countryside. They were out celebrating when Renee stalled their car at traffic lights and a lorry crashed into the vehicle, killing her.
1943-1978: Early life
Renee Bradshaw was born in Weatherfield on 3rd March 1943, the daughter of Harold and Daisy Bradshaw. Renee and her younger brother Terry were educated in Weatherfield and Renee got six O-levels at Weatherfield Girls High School. When Harold died in 1969, Daisy moved the family to Lancaster and married Joe Hibbert in 1972. Renee worked as an insurance clerk for a time before entering the retail trade as a cashier in a supermarket.
When Terry left the Army for a new life in Weatherfield, Renee visited to check up on him and became interested in the local Corner Shop, which was up for sale. She liked the shop and the area, and felt that she would be looking out for her brother by providing him with his own flat. Immediately taking out a loan from the bank, Renee made Gordon Clegg an offer for the shop and bought it after a two week trial. An inquisitive, headstrong woman, Renee quickly made her presence known in Coronation Street by evicting Elsie Howard, Gail Potter and Tricia Hopkins - who had been living in the accommodation and flat - and opening the shop on Sundays, incurring the wrath of religious Ena Sharples, who accused her of leading the residents into temptation. Her bossiness caused lazy Tricia to leave the area and get her own back on Renee by reporting her for opening late and selling non-perishable goods on Sundays.
Renee's biggest decision on installing herself in the shop was to apply for an off-licence. This set her against Rovers Return Inn landlady Annie Walker, who feared her profits would be affected and put forth her case in court that the Rovers already fulfilled the neighbours' alcoholic needs. Renee fought her corner and started a petition in favour of the off-licence, which gained 276 signatures, and was granted the licence. Fortunately, she and Annie made peace over the matter and both remained welcome in each other's establishments.
Later in the year, Renee's fiancé sailor Harry McClean arrived on leave to see Renee. Harry was worried that Renee had bought the shop to tie him down and broke the engagement. Terry also left to return to the Army; he had struggled to find work and had been led a merry dance by Gail, who had been warned off Terry by Renee on her arrival in the Street. Renee blamed Gail for pushing Terry away and leaving her on her own. In early 1977, she rented the flat out to Bet Lynch, but accepted money from Mike Baldwin to subsidize her.
1977 saw Renee become close to GPO manager and Councillor Alf Roberts. He had occasionally lent a helping hand at the shop and when he caught Renee's cold Renee nursed him in her bed. She was away for some of that year and Betty Turpin looked after the shop while she away. Upon her return she saw more of Alf, although it was Alf who pushed Renee for them to take things further. Renee was receptive but made Alf get rid of his bowler hat, as she thought it made him look old.
At a club, they got drunk and Alf proposed marriage. Renee accepted but when they sobered up Alf didn't consider that her acceptance was brought on by drink, and told people that they were engaged. After a discussion, they agreed that they weren't serious about marrying, but continued to court into 1978. On returning from a business trip to London, Alf gave Renee an expensive bottle of scent and proposed again, but Renee refused as she thought he was taking it for granted that she would say yes, even though she did want to marry him. After counsel from Len Fairclough, Alf proposed again, making his intentions clear to Renee, and this time she accepted.
1978-1980: Marriage to Alf
Renee and Alf got married at Weatherfield Register Office on 20th March 1978 and took their honeymoon in Capri (after Alf jokingly suggested Scarborough to see Renee's reaction). A scene was caused at the reception when Alf punched Renee's stepfather Joe Hibbert after he said Renee was lucky to marry as she wasn't attractive.
Joe left Daisy later in the year, taking all of her money. Renee felt obligated to take her in, especially as she and Alf had just asked Bet to leave the flat. Renee asked Bet to move back in, thus making the flat unavailable for Daisy, as Renee and Alf didn't want to have to put up with her.
In 1979, Alf decided to retire from the GPO and work full-time at the shop. Renee was set against the idea as she thought of the shop as hers alone, but when she broke the news to Alf that she didn't want him working with her, and accused him of marrying her for the shop, he was deflated. Renee was stunned when, later that day, a lorry crashed into the Rovers when Alf was drinking there, and Alf was taken to hospital where he fell into a coma. Renee sat at his bedside until he woke up, worried that the cross words they shared would be their last, but he soon came out of his coma and was well enough to leave the hospital. It quickly emerged that Alf wasn't quite himself; he resented Renee making a fuss over him however and started making uncharacteristic angry outbursts, including one moment where he launched into an unprovoked tirade at Annie Walker. Alf insisted there was nothing wrong with him and turned on Renee when she apologised to Annie on Alf's behalf. Renee became frightened of Alf and made him see a psychiatrist, threatening to leave him otherwise. Alf began receiving psychiatric treatment and was soon back to normal.
With money in the bank, the Roberts enjoyed occasional holidays and Renee was always disappointed to be back in the Street. In 1980, she told Alf she wanted to move to the countryside, and won Alf round by suggesting that they run a sub post office. In preparation, Renee decided to learn to drive, although Alf was jealous of her instructor Jim Lorimer, and threw a tantrum when she was late returning from a lesson.
Alf mostly dealt with the sale of the shop as they put it on the market; he wanted £16,000 and the new shop would cost them £28,000. They reached a deal with Mr. and Mrs. Bannister for £15,000 and, on finding out that they had the sub post office, decided to go out to a country pub to celebrate. Alf insisted on driving as he thought Renee drove dangerously, but as he had been drinking he had to let Renee take the wheel for the drive home, with Alf prompting Renee as she hadn't yet passed her test. However, her driving infuriated him and when she stalled the car at some road works in a narrow lane, Alf got out of the car and insisted on driving himself. Before Renee could get out, a lorry came down the lane and hit the car head on. When the police and ambulance arrived, Renee was taken to hospital and underwent emergency surgery but died in the operating theatre from a ruptured spleen and liver. An inquest ruled Renee's death as accidental, and she was cremated.
Renee was proud of running an efficient, reliable service in the shop. When Albert Tatlock supplied the shop with salad sprayed with a new mixture which caused an illness, Renee got the blame but on confronting Albert, Renee found out the truth. In July 1977, Renee and Bet Lynch were tricked into leaving the shop for dates with Les Fox and Eric Bailey, who were in reality just trying to get them out of the shop so that they could ransack it. £400 worth of stock and £15 cash was taken from the shop.
Hobbies and interests
The character of Renee Bradshaw was created by Producer Bill Podmore, who upon joining Coronation Street in 1976 decided to make changes in the Corner Shop, which at the time of his appointment was being run by teenagers Gail Potter and Tricia Hopkins. Podmore felt that the characters were too young for the older characters to gossip with in scenes set in the shop and decided to introduce a new mature character as the new owner. Having worked with actress Madge Hindle on Nearest and Dearest, Podmore conceived the character specifically to be played by Hindle, who was given the role without having to audition. She first appeared in Episode 1598 on 10th May 1976.
The decision to kill Renee off was taken, ironically, by Bill Podmore. By 1980, the writers were struggling to come up with storylines for Renee and Alf and actors Madge Hindle and Bryan Mosley agreed that the partnership wasn't working as well as intended. Podmore saw a future for the character of Alf as a single man and told Hindle he wasn't renewing her contract. On reflection, Podmore felt he had made the right decision as he thought Alf's later marriage to Audrey Potter worked much better.
First and last lines
"I can do it!" (Last line, to Alf Roberts).