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He was the Weatherfield gossip always happy to dish the dirt as he bagged up bon bons. And as his nearest and dearest gather for the funeral of Norris Cole on Friday, the cantankerous Kabin stalwart can't resist playing a tricky on them, with a letter read out by vicar Billy.
Norris – played by Malcolm Hebden – had made his Street debut back in 1994, initially arriving as a new friend of Derek Wilton, the drippy salesman who wed dithering Mavis Riley, Rita's assistant at The Kabin.
Funnily enough the role wasn't Malcolm's first time in Coronation Street though, as he'd also popped up as Carlos, a Spanish boyfriend of Mavis's, for one episode back in 1974!
But it was in his partnership with Rita, behind the Kabin counter, that Malcolm really found his niche as Norris. Though he could never understand the character's appeal, saying, "For some unknown reason, Norris is immensely popular with children, though I never understand why. Is he the granddad they've always wanted to poke fun at? He's always wrong, but most of my letters are from young people, which is lovely. I think they feel safe with him because he's a loser!"
Following a heart attack, Malcolm stepped back from the role as a regular on the soap, but popped back occasionally, making his final onscreen appearance in June 2020.
Now, 27 years after Norris first appeared, the legendary busybody bows out for good, with this week's funeral.
Since the news of Norris's death shocked the Street, the likes of Freda, Mary, Rita and Claudia have been bickering over details of the service and where to hold the wake.
And pedantic Norris would not be impressed with the typo that Freda spots in George's order of service!
The service has some suitably eccentric touches, like Audrey handing round a hipflask of tequila among the mourners. But when vicar Billy reads out a letter written by Norris, all hell breaks loose.
For he reveals that Rita, his business partner for decades in the Street's corner shop the Kabin, had been sneaking off to have her legendary red hair coloured by Claudia, rather than trusting the dye job to her great friend – and Claudia's rival – Audrey.
Then the scheming sweet seller pulls a fast one on the whole congregation, by claiming that the statue of a paperboy outside The Kabin contains a secret.
At the wake, the atmosphere is ruined by a row between Rita and Audrey. Meanwhile outside The Kabin, Mary, Ken, Gail and Brian gather to try and find out the secret that Norris has hidden inside the paperboy.
The gang can't prise the statue apart, so in a rather macabre scenario, Mary returns with a chainsaw – ready to take the poor paperboy's head off and reveal whatever Norris stashed away.
But once the deed is done, the Weatherfield regulars find out something that perfectly sums up the friend and neighbour who could frustrate them like no other! Has Norris had the last laugh from beyond the grave?
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