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Alfred Sidney "Alf" Roberts (also known as "The Fat Big Jolly Green Grocer) was a fictional character in Coronation Streetmarker. He ran a grocery shop at number 15 Coronation Streetmarker and was heavily involved in local politics, including two spells as mayor of Weatherfield. He joined the programme in 1961, a short time after its inception, leaving in 1963, before returning in 1971 and remaining in the series until he died on 1 January 1999.

He was played by Bryan Mosley, who died six weeks after his character's final appearance.

Character's background

Alf first appeared on the Street as a semi-regular character in 1961, working at the post office as a sorter alongside Ken Barlow's father, Frank (Frank Pemberton). He appeared intermittently until 1963. Although occasionally mentioned, the character was not seen again until 1971. When he returned, he still worked at the post office, albeit now in a supervisor's role.

Alf was married first to Phyllis (who was mentioned but never made an appearance). She had been engaged to marry Alf's brother, but Alf had crashed his car, causing his brother's death. Out of a sense of duty he offered to marry Phyllis, and the marriage was a love-less one. Nevertheless, he was very upset when she died of cancer in 1972.

He became very close to Maggie Clegg who owned the corner shop on Coronation Streetmarker. Attractive, sympathetic, a good listener, she seemed to him to be the perfect wife. However, when he proposed, she gently turned him down, unable to bring herself to enter into a marriage with someone she didn't love just to avoid being lonely. Alf was very hurt, doubly so when, shortly afterwards she married wealthy, successful businessman Ron Cooke and emigrated to Zaire.

In 1973, he needed a consort when he became mayor of Weatherfield; he had hoped that Maggie Clegg would accept the role and was surprised when she turned him down. Annie Walker, the social-climbing landlady of The Rovers Return, invited herself to become Mayoress and a desperate Alf was forced to agree. Annie did a good job - she considered herself to be Weatherfield's 'First Lady' - but her snobbishness and pretensions often infuriated and exasperated Alf.

In 1978, he married Renee Bradshaw, who owned the corner shop. Theirs had been an awkward courtship - Alf withdrew his first proposal, telling Renee very unromantically that he had been drunk when he asked her - but when he proposed a second time they married. The marriage seemed doomed from the start - Alf punched Renee's stepfather, Joe Hibbert, at the wedding reception for suggesting that the only reason he had married someone as 'ugly' as Renee was to get his hands on the corner shop.

Renee, however, made it clear that the shop was hers, and that Alf should continue to work at the post office. Theirs was not a happy marriage, full of bickering and misunderstandings, and the locals couldn't help noticing they were a rather mis-matched couple.

However, when a lorry crashed into the pub, burying Alf under tons of wood, they re-assessed their lives. They decided to buy a sub-post office in Grange-Over-Sandsmarker and Renee took driving lessons. It was while learning to drive that Renee's car stalled at a red traffic light in a country lane. A lorry, coming in the other direction, riding the red light in his favour, struck the car and Renee was killed. Alf, who had got out of the car once it had stalled in order to take over the wheel was unharmed. He confided in friend Ken Barlow later his guilt - seconds before Renee's death he had been arguing with her about her driving, and this petty row was the last thing they ever said to each other. (Bryan Mosley, who played Alf, arranged this stunt sequence himself. An accomplished stunt man - belying his appearance - he presented his own annual stunt award at RADA. He often arranged stunts on television and films under the name Buddy Windrush)

Alf inherited the shop, and, over the next few years, Audrey Potter would come and go from his life. Audrey was very unlike Maggie and Renee for she was an unashamed good-time girl, her heart as big as a man's wallet. She set herself up in the back of Alf's shop as a hair stylist, and Alf caused tongues to wag when he painted Renee's name out of the shop sign. However, when Alf suggested marriage to Audrey she ran a mile.

Alf continued to run the corner shop, with various assistants, including Deirdre Barlow. He also continued as a local councillor until ill-health forced his retirement.

In 1985, however, Audrey decided that, after a lifetime of heart-ache with unsuitable men young enough to be her sons, Alf was the man for her. They married, living first in the flat over the shop, then at no. 11 Coronation Streetmarker before buying a semi-detached house on posh Grasmere Drive where Audrey still lives.

Alf lost his council seat to his own employee, Deirdre Barlow in May 1987 and suffered a heart attack as a result. Despite this, he was to be re-elected in the following term's elections. The local council decided to re-name Coronation Streetmarker Alf Roberts Street in his honour, and Alf was hurt when the locals opposed it. He was also made an OBE for services to local Government.

When Alf was mayor for the second time, Audrey declined to be mayoress, and Alf asked Betty Turpin instead. A compromise was later reached. When Alf retired from the council, Audrey held his seat for a while.

Alf was written out of the cast when the actor who played him became seriously ill. Bryan Mosley died in 1999, shortly after Alf had died of a stroke in his sleep at a New Year's party at Gail Platt's.


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