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Rita was a huge fan of the popular musical group the Common Men in an alternate timeline. She first met the Fifth Doctor on 31 October 1963 in a crowd watching the group exiting a plane; the two were soon invited to join the Common Men for a drink. When she revealed to the Doctor that her brother Greg had died in national service training, though, he noticed that something was amiss — national service was abolished in 1960 in his native timeline — and decided to take her on a trip in the TARDIS to 1957, when it began to wind down.

However, as the 1950s were time-locked by Lenny Kruger, the two returned to 1963, and tracked down all the potential Beatles. They attended a Common Men concert, and Rita was entranced into obsession for them. He eventually left her behind in 1963 Earth, giving her the mission of investigating the Common Men further. In investigating them, she became a proper journalist. In the end, she aided in the defeat of Lenny Kruger — the one who had been meddling in time — by helping the Doctor spread a rumour that Lenny had killed James O'Meara. (AUDIO: 1963: Fanfare for the Common Men)