Rita Freeman (formerly Richie) is a senior staff nurse who worked in the emergency department of Holby City Hospital from 2013 to 2016. She joined the department in August 2013 as a band 5 staff nurse and became a band 6 following a promotion in 2014. At the start of 2015, Rita was promoted to clinical nurse manager after Tess Bateman stepped down from the position. She left the department in July 2016 after almost three years of working there.
When she first arrived at the ED, she was popular among her colleagues, despite having a stern attitude when she wanted something done. In March 2014 when Connie Beauchamp arrived, the two did not get along partially due to the fact they had very differing opinions on how the ED should have been run. When Rita was promoted, she started to notice that Connie was giving her staff the undesirable jobs which only made things worse between the two of them, but eventually Rita confronted Connie about it.
During her time at the ED, Rita saw the arrival of new junior doctor Alicia Munroe, nurse co-workers Lofty Chiltern and Jacob Masters, registrars Ethan Hardy and Caleb Knight, as well as the departure of Tess Bateman, Adrian Fletcher, Jamie Collier and Martin "Ash" Ashford and the death of Jeff Collier. In 2015, she entered a relationship with paramedic Iain Dean although they broke up the following year. In July 2016, she decided to quit her job at the ED to pursue her dreams of travelling.
During Rita's childhood, her parents would take her on a trip to Scotland in their camper van every summer. In 2014, Rita told Dixie that it was one of her happiest memories that she recalled whenever she felt down. (CAS: "The Last Call")
Before joining the ED, Rita was married to Mark Richie, a teacher. However, during their marriage Mark sexually assaulted one of his thirteen year old pupils. (CAS: "The Love You Take") During the court case which took place after the incident, Rita defended Mark as she wanted to believe that Mark hadn't done what he had been accused of in a desperate attempt to save her marriage. (CAS: "Survivors") In the end, Mark was found guilty and incarcerated. They became separated thereafter, and Rita told everyone whom she met that her husband was dead so her past would have as little impact as possible on her present.
Time in the emergency department (2013-16)
Rita was late for her first shift due to an accident in her new flat. Her neighbour upstairs had been hoarding for too long and with it sitting above a leaky ceiling, it eventually gave way. She successfully managed to help her neighbour and met her new paramedic colleagues when they arrived at the scene. She made strong first impressions on paramedics Dixie Dixon and Jeff Collier as well as senior nurse, Fletch. On her first day, she attended the scene of an accident with the paramedics, but was shocked and it clearly wasn't what she was expecting. (CAS: "Once There Was a Way Home - Part One") Also in 2013, Rita was given the task to teach Lily Chao a better bedside manner after she was seen to be too blunt with patients. (CAS: "Waiting for a Star to Fall")
In October, Rita once again went along with Jeff and Dixie to the scene of an accident, which had occurred at a car breakers yard. Despite Jeff and Dixie telling Rita not to tell the man that his injuries may be fatal, she told him anyway which led him to call his estranged daughter. (CAS: "Crush")
In January 2014, Rita's night out with Dixie took a turn for the worst when they saw a woman running from an alley in distress. As Rita intervened, a man from in the alley got aggressive towards her, but Dixie stepped in and pushed him away which caused him to fall back and hit his head. (CAS: "Keeping Schtum")
Later that year, Rita phoned "the man who ruined her life" outside The Hope & Anchor, demanding a divorce. (CAS: "First Impressions") The following month, the man was admitted to the ED after being badly beaten up in prison, and the rest of the staff discovered that it was Rita's estranged husband, Mark, who she had told them was dead. At the time of his admittance, Rita was in an interview, but soon had to be called out after Mark refused to have life-saving treatment unless he could talk to Rita. Despite Rita's shock, the other staff members also had a surprise when it was discovered that he was put in prison for sexually assaulting a 13 year old girl. He eventually agreed to sign the divorce papers. (CAS: "The Love You Take")
In August after knowing that the other staff know about her husband, Rita turned to alcohol. (CAS: "The Sicilian Defence") As the weeks went on, it became obvious to them that Rita had been drinking after they picked up on her scent. Rita didn't turn up for work one day, which prompted Ash to call on her. When she eventually allowed him in, he agreed to keep her drinking a secret from the rest of the staff. However, when an alcoholic died later that day in the ED, Ash told her that's where she could be heading. (CAS: "Home") By November, Rita's drinking problem had improved a lot, and she was even promoted to a senior staff nurse. (CAS: "Entrenched")
In January 2015, Rita was promoted to clinical nurse manager after Tess stepped down. Also at the beginning of 2015, Connie blamed Rita for her daughter Grace's disappearance, as she went missing at the same time Rita's convicted sex offender ex-husband Mark returned to the hospital after having been released from prison. Connie promised Rita that she would make her leave the department within six months, despite later finding out that Mark wasn't even responsible. (CAS: "The Last Goodbye")
In March, Connie's hatred for Rita grew when a meeting between the two of them resulted in Connie missing the chance to say farewell to MND sufferer Alfred Maxwell before he returned to his care home. (CAS: "Excess Baggage") The following week, Rita stood up to Connie after she expected Rita's nursing staff to clean up mess in the ED, the job of a porter. (CAS: "Toxic Relationships")
In April 2015, Alfred died, and Rita called the police and accused Connie of assisting him to die. (CAS: "The King's Crossing") The following week, she hid vital evidence that would have suggested otherwise from the police. When she overheard the police saying they would need to search Connie's office, she rushed there first to see if the tablets which she thought Connie had given to Alfred were really there, which they were, proving that Connie hadn't done it. She still continued to hide the evidence and took it as the police walk in. (CAS: "The Rita Supremacy") She was then left feeling guilty and told Charlie, and the case was dropped when he handed in the evidence to the police after she gave the tablets to him. (CAS: "The Department of Secrets")
In August 2015, Rita picked up on Dylan's OCD after he tampered with a cardiogram in order to avoid having to treat a patient in resus bay 4. When Dylan confided in Rita regarding his condition, he later overheard her discussing it with Zoe which lead to him ignore them both for a brief period. (CAS: "Dark Horses") At the end of August, staff nurse Jacob Masters attempted to manipulate Connie and Rita, who by this point had moved on from their previous conflict. (CAS: "Forsaking All Others - Part One") After Zoe and Max's wedding when Charlie suffered a heart attack, Rita told Connie to give up on attempting to resuscitate him, but she persisted for over half an hour, which eventually lead to him living. (CAS: "A Child's Heart - Part Two")
In September, she entered a secretive relationship with paramedic Iain Dean, although some staff members, namely Zoe and Jack picked up on it shortly after. (CAS: "All the Single Ladies") In January 2016, Rita supported Lofty during his application to become a senior band 6 staff nurse. She was present during his interview along with Henrik Hanssen. She offered Lofty the job after he used his initiative in setting up a triage outside the ED when a black alert was called. (CAS: "What a Difference a Day Makes")
Towards the end of February 2016, Rita was called in for an urgent meeting with Deputy Director of Operations for Unscheduled Care Michael Hall regarding the death of Diane Stuart. She collected statements from both Dylan and Lofty about the incident, but during the interview Rita was shocked that Lofty went against what had been said due to his uncertainty that her death wasn't his fault. (CAS: "Fatal Error - Part Two") In March, the investigation continued and Rita informed Lofty that he could simply take a training course and still keep his job, but he decided to leave the department anyway. (CAS: "High Tide")
In April 2016 during a shift at the ED, Rita began treating an 18 year old woman who had been in a car crash and was using the name Jane Eyre. Rita began treating her and discovered that she was involved in the car crash with her boyfriend. Shortly after, Rita was shocked when Mark was wheeled into the ED on the trolley and that quickly turned to horror when it transpired that her 18 year old patient was Mark's girlfriend and also the student with whom Mark slept with when she was thirteen. Rita continued to treat Mark and his girlfriend whose real name was revealed to be Fiona, but through routine tests it was discovered that Fiona was pregnant. Lily notified them that the fetus was growing outside of the womb and there was no way it could survive, and that Fiona would require surgery. She initially refused surgery and locked herself in Connie's office, but after a chat with Rita her condition started to worsen and she was sent up for treatment anyway. At the end of the day, Rita was confronted by Mark, who had just been dumped by Fiona, and he told her that she was just jealous of their relationship. (CAS: "Survivors")
The following week, Rita told Iain about Mark being there the previous week and he told her that he was there for her should she need to talk. Shortly after, Connie told Rita that a complaint had been made against her by a patient, although Rita had no recollection of the patient or the allegations. She noticed her ID badge was missing and also received a threatening text from an unknown number. She began to suspect it was Mark, but another patient that day had smashed her computer screen out of anger which made her suspicions of Mark dissipate. However, when she returned home, she discovered her bedroom had been trashed and the words "you will suffer" written in lipstick on her mirror, which confirmed for her that Mark was the one responsible. (CAS: "A Clear Conscience")
The following week, Iain threatened Mark outside the ED when he turned up. Rita soon discovered them outside the ED and although she had previously asked Iain not to get involved, she was relieved that he had warded Mark off. Mark told Rita that he had just come to apologise before walking away. (CAS: "Tangled Webs We Weave") In May, Iain started to have second thoughts about the relationship after speaking to Jez, but at the pub after their shift Rita continued to grow more attached to him and he failed to tell her how he felt. (CAS: "Chain Reaction") A week later, Rita discovered that finding a place to stay was proving to be more difficult than she'd first imagined. She initially asked Max and Robyn but they told her there was a mouse infestation to prevent her from doing so. Shortly after, Iain offered up his spare room for her to stay. She began trying to organise his life before having even moved in, although Iain had started flirting with a nurse in the ED. At the end of the day when Rita and Iain were meant to go home together, Iain told her he was going to the pub first, before being kissed by the nurse and walking out with her, leaving Rita heartbroken. (CAS: "This Life")
In June, she was intent on ignoring Iain and giving him the cold shoulder, despite his attempts to talk to her. Later on in the day, Elle Gardner went to find her to tell her that she'd found the missing tramadol tablets which were reported stolen in Charlie's locker. They went to tell Connie and she eventually told Elle to leave and that she would sort it. However, when Elle inadvertently revealed to Hanssen that Charlie was responsible, Rita was forced to suspend him. After her stressful shift, Rita returned to her car to drive home to find that her tyres had all been slashed which resulted in her going running back to Iain for support. (CAS: "The Best Day of My Life") The police phoned her the following week and informed her that it wasn't Mark who slashed her tyres, and who it actually was. Despite this, she told Iain that it was Mark and they shared a kiss and walked home together. (CAS: "You Make Me Sick")
Towards the end of the month during a night shift, Rita went looking for Iain at the ambulance station. As he went to get away, he walked into some equipment and injured his genitalia and was admitted to the ED where Rita treated him. Intimidated by the large needle she was holding he told her that he did want to be with her after all which left her feeling delighted. However after their shifts Rita went to see Iain whilst he was recovering in the staff room at which point he told her he didn't want a relationship anymore. This left her heartbroken and she later went into reception on the verge of tears and asked Louise if she'd go for a drink with her. (CAS: "History Repeating")
At the start of July, Rita was still ignoring Iain following the break-up. Upon arriving to work for her shift and seeing him outside, she ducked behind a parked car but when she was startled, she banged her eye on the wing mirror. When a black eye emerged, she told Louise that Mark did it and that Iain knew that he'd been doing it but hadn't done anything about it. However, when Iain later went after Mark, Rita forced him to stop and confessed to her lies. She also told him that it was a patient who slashed her tyres and not Mark, which resulted in Iain shouting at her and Louise and the rest of the staff feeling betrayed by her lies. (CAS: "What Lies Beneath")
She took time off work the following week to Iain's relief, but she returned midway through the month and was greeted with a cold response from her colleagues. However, during her shift she was able to assist Lily and Louise which earned back their respect, and she was also able to apologise to Iain properly. After her shift, she cleared out her locker and informed Charlie she would be using up a large chunk of her overdue holiday, and implied to him that she wouldn't be returning. They shared a hug before she walked off to pursue her dreams of going travelling. (CAS: "The Fear")
Rita was once married to Mark Richie, but they separated long before she started working at the ED. Not much is known about their relationship, but it likely ended because of or prior to his sex offender charges. Eventually, she divorced him in 2014 when he reluctantly signed the divorce papers. (CAS: "The Love You Take")
In 2015, she began a relationship with Iain Dean after they kissed in October. (CAS: "All the Single Ladies") From that point, the relationship became more serious but they still didn't reveal it to the other staff, but some caught them in the act like Dixie. Unlike Zoe and Max, Rita and Iain's relationship was less secretive.
Later in October, Iain learned of Dixie and Rita's kiss from years ago, but took it jokingly, by telling Rita that Dixie wanted to kiss her again making it awkward but eventually told them it was a joke. (CAS: "One Shot") On Christmas Eve, Rita and Iain were texting flirtatiously, but Iain accidentally sent a dirty text to Robyn which shocked her. (CAS: "Home for Christmas")
In June 2016, Iain officially broke up with Rita, which left her heartbroken. (CAS: "History Repeating") She later continued her lies until she was caught out the following week, which resulted in the rest of the staff turning against her. (CAS: "What Lies Beneath")
- Always has a new project or hobby on the go, from rock-climbing to spelunking, Rita seems fearless.
- Rita loves a bit of karaoke!
- Rita has had problems with alcohol abuse in the past.
- Rita became the clinical nurse manager of the ED on 24 January 2015. (CAS: "The Last Goodbye")
- Rita owns a kayak.
Behind the scenes
Rita was portrayed by Chloe Howman on Casualty from 2013 to 2016. Howman had previously guest starred in Casualty for minor roles in series 24 and 26. During 2015, Rita was built up to be the primary antagonist of the show with her framing Connie. By the end of the year, this association of the character had disappeared completely.
Howman will made her final appearance as the character in the 42nd episode of the 30th series after 3 years on the show. Her departure storyline began mid-April with the return of her ex-husband Mark. Following her departure, the BBC released a departure video featuring scenes of her time in the ED as they had previously done for Zoe, Lofty and Big Mac.
Series producer Erika Hossington praised Howman's acting and commented that she has "risen" to the challenge of Rita's new storyline. Rita was a love-hate character, especially in the spring of 2015 when she framed Connie for helping Alfred die.
In November 2015, Erika Hossington revealed that Rita and Iain's relationship would turn dark in 2016, so to keep an eye out for it. In April, Rita's ex-husband Mark returned to the ED after being involved in a car crash, which kicked of a storyline involving the two of them.
Rita made her first appearance in Casualty in the series 28 episode "Once There Was a Way Home - Part One". Rita had mid-high prominence in the show, particularly during 2015 in her storyline with Connie. Rita has 0 centric episodes. She made her final appearance in "The Fear", just before the end of series 30 in July 2016.