Coronation Street fans are fearing for the future of Rita Tanner following rumours that the long-running character is soon to be killed off.

Loyal viewers took to Twitter in protest after reports emerged that Rita, played by Barbara Knox, 83, since her Weatherfield debut in 1964, will be diagnosed with a brain tumour.

TV Knox 3
Knox joined the show in 1964 (PA)

Days after she apparently forgot to attend Mary Taylor’s wedding on the ITV soap, the Sun newspaper quoted a source as saying: “It has been suggested she might have dementia, but she does not.

“In fact, she will be diagnosed with a tumour and her doctors will say there is a serious risk she will die if they don’t remove it.”

Among the responses from outraged fans, Lewis Pringle wrote: “The Queen of the street and the Kabin cannot leave. No. No, I won’t allow it. #corrie #rita.”

Another added: “What! Corrie is killing off Rita! Very sad a brain tumour is the reason she’s leaving the show after 53 years!”

One commented: “You can’t just KILL Rita. Who do Corrie think they are?” while another said that, if she has to go, she deserves to go with “heavily embroidered ensemble and a set of matching luggage”.

Coronation Street creators have chosen not to comment on the rumours.