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 Adamson
Peter George Adamson

(1930-02-16)16 February 1930
Liverpool, England
Died17 January 2002(2002-01-17) (aged 71)
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 on screen in January 1961.[4]

In September 1970, Adamson 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 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 General Hospital in the Rossendale Valley, 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. In them he called some street actors "Amateurs". He was given a warning by Bill Podmore and management at Granada that he would be dismissed for breach of contract if it happened again. Adamson was suspended for a six week period without pay which started on 11 April 1983.[10][better source needed]

On 24 April 1983, a Sunday newspaper reported that Adamson had been arrested the previous day on suspicion of indecent assault on 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 broadcast on 11 May, but it was recorded in late March, before his arrest and suspension. 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.


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 large 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 News of the World along with the story of his arrest and trial, which had left Adamson with legal bills of £120,000.[11][1] Producer Bill Podmore called this "indefensible" and the cheque was hastily withdrawn. Adamson was sacked by Podmore in a letter sent to his house whilst he was on holiday in Bali on 26 August 1983. The latter stated that Granada would not renew Adamson's contract which expired in November 1983.

At the time of his sacking, Adamson was earning a reported £25,000 a year.[12] In 1974, he was earning £12,000 a year.[13]

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 air 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.[14]

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][15] 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.

Work after Coronation StreetEdit

Adamson's career post-Coronation Street got off to a good start. He starred as Inspector Hubbard[1] in a West End production of Dial M for Murder from November 1983 to March 1984 which also featured Simon Ward and Hayley Mills. In this he earned £1,000 a week, the highest he said he'd been paid weekly. The play was successful. In June 1984, Adamson was in a play in Croydon and in the summer of 1984 he read short stories on BBC Radio 4. He was in a play in Harlow when his wife fell dangerously ill in September 1984 and he 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 playing 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 1986, he was in a touring production of A Taste of Honey. Later that year, Adamson briefly settled in Canada appearing in weekly repertory in Toronto and Vancouver.[16] He appeared in Run for Your Wife, a Ray Cooney farce at the Bayview Playhouse in the former city.[17] 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. While Adamson was in Comedians in Belfast (from February to April 1989), he had to change his address due to receiving a death threat after getting into an argument in a pub.[citation needed] Perhaps due to the alleged admission he made in The Sun, being typecast as Len Fairclough, and his drinking and reputation, acting roles became increasingly rare after that.[1][4] He was declared bankrupt in July 1991, with debts of £32,000, largely due to the legal fees from the 1983 court case.[16][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 Coronation Street cast had ever contacted him since his sacking and that he had written twice to Julie Goodyear, who he had been very close to during his time on the show, but she never replied.[18]

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.[19] 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 Coronation Street cast member, past or present, attended his funeral.[20]


  1. ^ a b c d Hayward, Anthony (21 January 2002). "Obituary: Peter Adamson". The Independent. London. Archived from the original on 22 September 2010. Retrieved 18 September 2009. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  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 "Peter Adamson". The Daily Telegraph. 21 January 2002. Archived from the original on 6 July 2018. Retrieved 26 November 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ Liverpool Echo – 18 September 1970.
  6. ^ "Peter Adamson". Archived from the original on 10 November 2017. Retrieved 26 November 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  7. ^ The Guardian – 8 November 1966
  8. ^ TV Times 4–10 January 1975
  9. ^ Liverpool Echo – 22 July 1983
  10. ^ Daily Mirror 11 April 1983
  11. ^ "Peter Adamson".
  12. ^ Sheffield Morning Telegraph - 27 July 1983
  13. ^ TV Times - 4–10 January 1975
  14. ^ The Sunday Times - 28 July 1985
  15. ^ The Sun – 6 June 1988
  16. ^ a b Barker, Dennis (21 January 2002). "Obituary: Peter Adamson". The Guardian.
  17. ^ Toronto Star – 18 October 1986
  18. ^ The People – 8 May 1994
  19. ^ 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. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  20. ^ "Final bid clear name". 27 January 2002.

External linksEdit