Saturday, 5 September 2009

1983: Fred Gee, Bet Lynch, Betty Turpin, A Car And A Lake...

Sunday Mirror, May 1, 1983:

Looking ahead to the week's TV:

Coronation Street, (ITV, 7.30). It's time for a Bank holiday spree. Fred Gee (Fred Feast) takes Bet Lynch (Julie Goodyear) and Betty Turpin (Betty Driver) out for a whirl around the countryside and a picnic lunch. But it doesn't work out quite as it should.

One of my favourite Coronation Street story-lines of the 1980s was the "Car In The Lake Outing" of May 1983.

Rovers potman Fred Gee (Fred Feast), trying to be a wow with barmaid Bet Lynch (Julie Goodyear), tempted her with an afternoon out - a picnic somewhere "nice". He'd take her in his Rover 2000 motor car - the one which had once belonged to Rovers landlady Annie Walker (Doris Speed).

Bet was quite keen on the idea of a picnic, but not at all keen on being alone with "Fred Face", and so invited her trusted colleague Betty Turpin (Betty Driver) along for the ride.

And a "ride" it certainly was, with the Rover ending up rolling into a lake - with Bet and Betty inside it.

And when Bet finally made it back to dry land, it wasn't that dry either - because dear old "Fred Face" dumped her down in a cow pat!

Of all the women Of Weatherfield in 1983, Betty Driver and Julie Goodyear were the most called upon in the courage and endurance stakes.

Recalling the filming of the "Car In The Lake" scenario in the book The Coronation Street Story (Daran Little, 1995), Julie Goodyear said:

"I had on a pink skirt, a jacket and a very flimsy T-shirt and some plastic beads and a pair of white high-heels, and they gave me a brown plastic bin-liner with two holes in it for my legs. I stepped into that and it was tied round my waist. And of course the water went up as soon as we went in and the bag was immediately filled with lake-water. The car sank and we were both waist-deep in very, very cold lake water."

Betty Driver gave her account of the watery saga:

"Now, me wellies were full of water to start with, and I said to Julie, 'There's a stickleback in the water here, dodging all around me. I hope to God it doesn't go anywhere else!' We were terrified and there was a swan swimming by and every time it passed the window it hissed at us and I thought it was going to attack us."

The sequence took two days to film, and Julie Goodyear and Betty Driver received congratulatory bottles of brandy from producer Mervyn Watson, with notes thanking them for their hard work.

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