Peter Adamson (actor)

Peter George Adamson (16 February 1930 – 17 January 2002) was an English actor, best known for playing Len Fairclough in Coronation Street from January 1961 to May 1983.[1]

Peter George Adamson
Born(1930-02-16)16 February 1930
Liverpool, England
Died17 January 2002(2002-01-17) (aged 71)
Lincoln, England
Years active1956–1989
Jean Duncan
(m. 1953; died 1984)

Early lifeEdit

Peter George Adamson[2] was born at 54 Hannan Road in Kensington, Liverpool,[3] the youngest of six children. His father was a manager of a menswear shop. Adamson was evacuated to Wales with his older brother when World War II broke out.[3] He left school at the age of 14 and took an office job in a solicitor's firm, before trying for a career as a commercial artist.[4]


Early career and Coronation StreetEdit

After taking part in a community play at the age of 17, Adamson moved to London and attended LAMDA, but left after two months. He returned to the North West, working in repertory theatre for several years, where he met his wife Jean. He also set up his own rep theatre company, producing and performing in plays and summer shows at Weston-super-Mare. He went on to appear in London's West End, and first appeared on television in 1956 in a variety show. He then gained roles in television dramas such as Granada Television's Skyport and Knight Errant Limited before being cast as Len Fairclough in Granada's fledgling series Coronation Street. His character first appeared onscreen in January 1961.[4]

In September 1970 Adamson also took two months out of Coronation Street to play Mr Fenn in the Emlyn Williams play Someone's Waiting.[5] In 1973 he appeared in a play called Nightfall.[3]

In December 1981, he was celebrated in an episode of This Is Your Life.[6]

First suspensionEdit

Off-screen, Adamson gained a reputation as a hell-raiser, admitting that he had a drink problem, and had become involved in pub brawls. On 7 November 1966, he was fined £30 and banned from driving for a year after being arrested for drunk driving.[7]

He stopped drinking in July 1969 after being suspended from the show unpaid, and spent several weeks in Rossendale valley hospital drying out.[8][9][4] Adamson was missing from episodes 921 to 935. After discharge, he then attended Alcoholics Anonymous and remained sober for 15 years but started drinking again after his wife's death.


In February 1983, Adamson sold behind the scenes stories about his co-stars to the Sun newspaper journalist Dan Slater without permission. He was given a warning by management at Granada that he faced dismissal for breach of contract if it happened again. Adamson was suspended for six weeks without pay.

On 24 April 1983, a Sunday newspaper reported that Adamson had been arrested the previous day for indecently assaulting two eight-year-old girls at a public swimming pool in Haslingden where he had assisted as a part-time instructor in two separate incidents. The police complaint alleged that Adamson's hands had strayed while giving swimming lessons.[4]

His final ever appearance as Len Fairclough was made on 11 May, but it was recorded in late March, before his arrest. Adamson asked Granada to write him out of the programme until his court case was over. His trial began on 18 July 1983 and he was represented at his trial by the barrister George Carman QC, who had a prominent career defending celebrities. On 26 July 1983, at Burnley Crown Court, a jury found Adamson not guilty.

Alleged admissionEdit

In early June 1988, still suffering financial and drink problems, Adamson was allegedly persuaded by freelance Sun reporter Dan Slater to change his story following several bottles of whisky. Adamson allegedly told Slater, "I am totally guilty of everything the police said. But what I hope you will print – is there was no sexual intent."[4][10] He withdrew from the play The Railway Children in which he was starring in Birmingham. As a result, Lancashire Police interviewed Adamson at Chorley Police Station, but he categorically denied the confession. No further charges were brought against him.


After he was charged, Adamson was refused legal aid. Two weeks before the trial began, he approached Granada to see if they would help with what was a potentially enormous legal bill. As they were preparing to hand over a £10,000 loan cheque, Adamson admitted to Podmore and Granada management that he had signed an unauthorised contract to sell his memoirs to The Sun and The News of the World along with the story of his arrest and trial without permission. The trial left Adamson with legal bills of £120,000.[11][12] Producer Bill Podmore called this "indefensible" and the cheque was hastily withdrawn. He demanded that Adamson give clear assurances that he would never again break Granada's house rules on press interviews. Adamson said that he couldn't guarantee he would.[4][13] Adamson was sacked by Podmore whilst on holiday in Bali on 26 August 1983.

At the time of his sacking Adamson was earning a reported £25,000 a year.[14] In 1974 he was earning £12,000 a year.[15]

Len Fairclough was killed off-screen in a motorway crash on 7 December 1983. To demonise the character, it was revealed that he had been returning home from an affair, cheating on wife Rita (Barbara Knox).[4] Adamson claimed this was motivated by sheer spite on Granada's part, to turn viewers against Len.

Adamson celebrated the character's death by delivering an obituary on TV-am dressed as an undertaker and delivered a bitter parting shot towards both Coronation Street and Granada in a poem he wrote.

On 30 July 1985 Adamson appeared on TV, talking about the trial and the aftermath in a TVS programme called Regrets. Granada refused to run the episode because Adamson criticised Granada over his dismissal. They threatened TVS with legal action for using the Coronation Street theme and photographs from the series.[16]

Work after Coronation StreetEdit

Adamson's career post Coronation Street got off to a good start. He starred in a West End production of Dial M for Murder from 1 November 1983 to March 1984 which also featured Simon Ward and Hayley Mills. The play was successful. In June 1984 he was in a play in Croydon and in the summer of 1984 read short stories on BBC Radio 4. He was in a play in Harlow when his wife fell dangerously ill in September 1984 and had to quit to return north. In February and March 1985 Adamson was based in Cambridge when he had a part in Entertaining Mr Sloane and in the spring and early summer of 1985, he was in Darlington as he played Tommy Beamish, the leading role of an actor-manager of a troupe of music hall entertainers on the eve of the First World War in Empires by J.B. Priestley.

In February, March and April 1986 he was in A Taste of Honey, a touring play. In the late Summer of 1986, Adamson moved to Toronto, appearing in Run For Your Wife, the Ray Cooney farce at the Bayview Playhouse.[17] and later guest role in the detective drama Adderly.[18][19] This was successful and he returned to the UK in the Spring of 1988 and played Sir Tunbelly Clumsy in a revival of The Relapse at the Mermaid Theatre from September to December that year. Adamson was in a play called the "Comedians" in Belfast running from February to April 1989 and had to change his address due to receiving a death threat after getting into an argument in a pub. Perhaps due to the alleged admission he made in the Sun, being typecast as Len Fairclough, his drinking and reputation, acting roles became increasingly rare after that.[1][4] He was declared bankrupt in 1991, with £32,000 debts, largely due to the legal fees from the 1983 court case.[20][4]

Adamson retired from acting after being declared bankrupt. In the final decade of his life he lived on the state pension and benefits in a one bedroom Housing Association flat in Welton, Lincolnshire. He revealed in an interview with the Sunday People in May 1994 that none of the cast had ever contacted him since his sacking and that he had wrote twice to Julie Goodyear who during his street years he had been very close to, but she never replied.[21]

Personal lifeEdit

Adamson married his wife Jean on 2 December 1953. They had two sons. Jean, who had suffered from rheumatoid arthritis since her teens, died of septicaemia at Wrightington Hospital in Wigan on 26 September 1984, aged 52.


Adamson successfully underwent surgery for bowel cancer in 1990. He developed osteoarthritis and tinnitus in his later years.

Adamson died from stomach cancer in Lincoln County Hospital on 17 January 2002. He left £5,000 to his elder son Michael.[22] Johnny Briggs paid tribute, as did Jean Alexander, who said, "It's sad he has gone, but I hope he is at peace now." No cast member, past or present, attended his funeral.[23]


  1. ^ a b "Obituary: Peter Adamson". The Independent. London. 21 January 2002. Archived from the original on 22 September 2010. Retrieved 18 September 2009.
  2. ^ Archived 7 October 2009 at the Wayback Machine (England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916–2007)
  3. ^ a b c
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Peter Adamson". The Daily Telegraph. 21 January 2002. Archived from the original on 6 July 2018. Retrieved 26 November 2018.
  5. ^ Liverpool Echo – 18 September 1970.
  6. ^ "Peter Adamson". Archived from the original on 10 November 2017. Retrieved 26 November 2018.
  7. ^ The Guardian – 8 November 1966
  8. ^ TV Times 4–10 January 1975
  9. ^ Liverpool Echo – 22 July 1983
  10. ^ The Sun – 6 June 1988
  11. ^ "Peter Adamson".
  12. ^ "Peter Adamson | the Independent".
  13. ^ "Former Street star dies". 17 February 2007.
  14. ^ Sheffield Morning Telegraph - 27 July 1983
  15. ^ TV Times - 4–10 January 1975
  16. ^ Sunday Times - 28 July 1985
  17. ^ Toronto Star – 18 October 1986
  18. ^
  19. ^ "Actor never recovered from trial".
  20. ^ Barker, Dennis (21 January 2002). "Obituary: Peter Adamson". The Guardian.
  21. ^ The People – 8 May 1994
  22. ^ Brown, David (21 July 2002). "Corrie Len left just £5,000 in his will; Street fortune reduced to few grand". People. Retrieved 4 April 2014.
  23. ^ "Final bid clear name". 27 January 2002.

External linksEdit