Rita May has appeared in Coronation Street as five different characters:
- Taxi driver Marjorie Pitts in 1978
- British Legion barmaid Freda Woods in 1981
- Prospective B&B buyer Mrs Wilberforce in 2000
- Lollipop Lady Brenda Kelly in 2001
- Connie Rathbone in 2009 and 2010
Rita appeared in every episode of Children's Ward (1989-2000) (known as The Ward from 1996 – 1999), which was an award-winning children's drama made by Granada and created by Street writers Paul Abbott and Kay Mellor. Rita played Mags and was the only person to last the entire run. Many future stars of Coronation Street made their TV debuts on the programme, including Chris Bisson, Vicky Binns, Alan Halsall, Chloe Newsome, Tina O'Brien and Nikki Sanderson. Other major Corrie characters to have had early roles in the show are Steven Arnold, Jane Danson and Paul Fox.
Other notable roles for Rita have been in comedy Early Doors and drama Drop Dead Gorgeous (which also starred former Coronation Street actors Lee Boardman, Sushil Chudasama and Kathryn Hunt, (who played her daughter)).
Her work on radio has included a regular role in Radio 4 Comedy Ed Reardon’s Week and, in 1982, a play by Rony Robinson entitled Paula's Tape (aired as an episode of Thirty Minute Theatre), which earned her a Best Actress nomination in the Sony Radio Awards.
In 1981 a play she had written, One Hundred and Eighty!!! was screened as part of BBC2 Playhouse. The following year another of her plays, England’s Greens and Peasant Land - which she also starred in - was screened as part of BBC1’s Play for Today strand. Her only TV role prior to playing Marjorie Pitts had been in two linked Play For Today’s in 1977.