Saturday, 8 August 2009

Remembering Arthur Leslie As Jack Walker...

Debbie has written to tell me that she fondly remembers Rovers Return landlord Jack Walker, played by Arthur Leslie from 1960 until his death in 1970:

He was such a kind man, putting up with Annie, and very caring to the locals in the pub. He always tried to help people. I used to wish that I knew Jack in real life - he would have made an excellent relative or friend.

I remember crying when Arthur Leslie died in 1970. I was 17 and I had grown up with Jack and Annie and I was just so sorry that the actor had died in real life.

There's never been another Jack Walker!

I agree - Jack was a lovely character, and Arthur Leslie was held in high regard. I have an old TV programme on VHS (tucked away somewhere, I must find it!), featuring an interview with Betty Driver talking about how helpful Mr Leslie was to her when she made her Street debut as Betty Turpin in 1969.

Street writer and producer Harry Kershaw wrote about Arthur Leslie in his 1981 book, The Street Where I Live:

When he died in 1970 show business lost one of its most talented men and certainly one of its nicest. He was a quiet man who wasn't given to talking about his past but his tremendous value as an actor-manager in the theatre was evidenced by the number of 'big names' who, when visiting Granada, first paid their respects to Arthur. Success had come to him late, almost, he confided, when he thought his career was finished. Finished, although he didn't say it, with little in the way of material reward to show for the years of dedication. And then had come Coronation Street and the quiet man who was known only to the repertory audiences of South Lancashire became a national name, a well-known and well-loved face. And he enjoyed every minute of it.

Jack Walker was certainly one of the kindest characters to ever live in Coronation Street. And Arthur Leslie's on-screen partnership with Doris Speed (Annie) helped to make the show's first decade one of its very best.

In fact, in my humble opinion, the very best!

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