Corrie: Ken Barlow visits Norris in a retirement home
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Norris Cole (played by Malcolm Hebden) hasn’t been seen on Coronation Street since last year when Ken Barlow (William Roache) enjoyed a short stint at Still Waters retirement complex where his fellow neighbour resided. In light of the pandemic and the actor who plays Norris, Malcolm, 81, taking a step back from the ITV soap for health reasons, the beloved character hasn’t been included in recent storylines. However, the stalwart will be given a traditional Weatherfield send-off very soon as viewers and residents of the cobbles will bid farewell to the no-nonsense character as he dies off-screen.
It’s being reported the likes of Ken, Claudia Colby (Rula Lenska), Mary Taylor (Patti Clare) and Gail Platt (Helen Worth) will be included in the character’s funeral.
Norris’ death will come as a huge blow to his neighbours as they had hoped to see him on the odd occasion when he visited the cobbles from Stillwaters.
According to reports, the actor told bosses he would not be returning to show on a regular basis after recovering from a near-fatal heart attack in 2017.
Malcolm officially announced his retirement from acting in January, making any guest appearance on the show in the future very unlikely.
Therefore, the writers have taken the decision to put the character to rest and viewers are likely to hear through his friends he has died off-screen.
Having been a presence on the cobbles for almost three decades, bosses are promising a huge send-off for the beloved character.
An unnamed source said: “Norris was a huge character for Coronation Street and his funeral will be filled with fun and laughter as well as tears.
“Make no doubt about it, this will be a celebration of all of the best moments Norris had on the cobbles.
“But given his influence and how much he was loved, it is going to be an emotional watch,” they told The Sun.
Express.co.uk has contacted a representative of the show for comment on the reports.
Norris was a huge character
Following the reports emerging about the beloved character’s departure, fans have taken to Twitter to share their thoughts.
One viewer wrote on the social media platform: “My guess is they’ve killed Norris off, off-screen… #Corrie.”
Another posted: “#Corrie seeing filming scenes of a funeral that they’re saying is Audrey’s but Mary was dressed as Princess Leia so I think it means the worst – Norris is gone.”
Whilst a third remarked: “Think they’ve defo killed Norris off, off-screen…the cast were filming funeral scenes yesterday and Mary [was dressed as a character from Star Wars].
“Remember her and Norris doing their Star Wars stuff?! #Corrie #Norris,” they continued, adding further evidence to the point Norris’ funeral is going to take place in the next few weeks.
The beginning of the end for Norris began back in 2019 when Malcolm reprised his iconic role for the first time since his heart attack.
Norris returned to Weatherfield to oversee the sale of his property No.3 Coronation Street, which went to the Bailey Family.
At the time, executive producer Iain MacLeod explained this was not going to be the end for the beloved character.
“We just thought given the circumstances that we find ourselves in, it made sense to put a new family in No.3.
“It’s certainly not the end of Norris,” he affirmed but two years later, the former Kabin employee is no longer.
Following his announcement to quit the role of Norris, Malcolm explained why he wasn’t going to be returning to the show.
The actor said: “I absolutely adored playing Norris and I was pleased to be able to return briefly after my operation.
“It took a great deal of courage to make the decision to retire. But I had come to realise that although the mind was willing the body was not so much,” he told The Sun.
With spoilers weeks away from being revealed and the storyline being officially announced, there is no explanation as to how Norris dies off-screen.
With so many characters having incredible memories to share of the stalwart, the scenes will be heart-wrenching for viewers.
Norris’ death is also likely to have a lasting impact on some of his neighbours and could spearhead new storylines for them.
Ken will be rocked to see one of his dearest friends pass away and Rita Sullivan (Barbara Knox) will be devastated her former colleague has died.
Mary will be heartbroken as she was once married to the iconic character, whilst Gail will be upset to learn another long-term character has made an exit.
With Audrey Roberts (Sue Nicholls) and Roy Cropper (David Neilson) not featuring in the paparazzi pictures, it’s not known if they will make an appearance at the funeral.
If not, those who don’t attend could be seen raising a drink to the iconic character back in the Rovers Return.
Coronation Street continues Friday at 7:30pm on ITV.
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