Monday, 14 June 2010

Pat Phoenix - Lung Cancer Diagnosis

This is not the sort of subject we would usually tackle here at Back On The Street, but solidsandie has written to say:

Wikipedia states that Pat Phoenix was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1983, and this prompted her decision to leave The Street, but she kept her diagnosis secret. Is this true?

Absolutely not, as far as we know, solidsandie.

In 1983, Pat Phoenix had a breast cancer scare, but this proved to be groundless. She spoke to the Press about the subject, and her relief that she had nothing to worry about. She was in excellent spirits. She stated that the security of The Street was fine, but she was a bit of a "gypsy" and had to move on.

Having left The Street, she joined TV-am, appeared in the theatre, and the TV sitcom Constant Hot Water.

Interviews from the years 1984 and 1985 reveal that Miss Phoenix was apparently thoroughly enjoying her new life.

According to the newspaper sources of 1986, Miss Phoenix's lung cancer diagnosis came in March of that year.

This fact is also reported in the Year 2000 TV tribute - The Unforgettable Pat Phoenix. See below.

Monday, 7 June 2010

When Did Jack Duckworth First Appear In Coronation Street?

February 1989 - Percy Sugden (Bill Waddington) upbraids Jack Duckworth (Bill Tarmey) as the stone cladding goes up at No 9.

Interesting e-mail from Francis:

I've just read on Corriepedia that Jack Duckworth first appeared in 1977! Surely this isn't true?

A slight error there, Francis! William Tarmey appeared in Coronation Street as an un-named extra for several years. Some of these episodes make amusing viewing! In one, Vera (Liz Dawn) was standing in the Rovers bar, loudly criticising her husband, whilst Mr Tarmey was standing close by! In a 1979 episode, the Tilsley family threw a house warming party. Vera stated that Jack couldn't make it - but Bill Tarmey was there in his un-named extra role!

In December 1978, Mr Tarmey briefly played Jack Rowe - an unpleasant associate of Dave Barnes, the ex-gaolbird who roughed up Albert Tatlock (Jack Howarth) in early 1979.

Mr Tarmey first appeared as Jack Duckworth in November 1979. The character then went underground, re-surfacing in 1981. The Vince St Clair story-line of 1983 caused Jack Duckworth's popularity to soar, and Mr Tarmey was awarded a permanent contract and a home on the Street - at No 9 - the same year.

Here we are, in the summer of 1983, and William Tarmey (Jack Duckworth) is still not a permanent Street regular...

Daily Mirror, June 15, 1983:

As Bill Tarmey walks towards the TV studios, an army of autograph-hunters surround him.

Surprisingly, they're not middle-age women, but teenagers and schoolkids.

And it's not the name of Bill Tarmey they want in their books. Or even Jack Duckworth. "Sign it from Vince," they scream.

For the past couple of years, Bill has had to get used to being called Jack Duckworth - the Jack-the-lad character he plays in Coronation Street. But since he got into trouble with his wife Vera for signing on at an escort agency as Vince St. Clair, the new name has suddenly caught on.

Bill says: "Everywhere I go, people call me Vince. It was all meant as a bit of fun in the scripts. But I'm not going to be able to live down Vince St. Clair in a hurry."

Tarmey has no long-term contract. But he pops up for a spell every few months in The Street - usually for a slanging match with wife Vera, Elsie Tanner's factory-mate.

"It's amazing the way the characters of Jack and Vera Duckworth have caught the public imagination," Bill says.

"The trouble is, every one thinks I really am like Jack Duckworth, who spends his life ducking and diving. And I'm quite the opposite."

Bill says: "I love the character. He's a bit of a head banger is Jack. I suppose you'd call him a lovable rascal."

So, no long-term contract for William Tarmey at the time of the Daily Mirror report on June 15th, although the viewers' interest in Jack Duckworth - and Vince St Clair - appeared to be booming.

But, move on a few days...

The Duckworths are going to be moving into Coronation Street!

Sunday People, June 19, 1983:

The move will arouse even more resentment against "the family the rest love to hate".

But for night-club singer Bill Tarmey, who plays Jack, it means a long-term contract in Britain's top soap opera - the chance of a lifetime.

That lifetime was almost cut short seven years ago when Bill, then 35, had a massive heart attack on the stage of a Manchester club.

"I thought it was the end, and that I'd never work again." he told me.

But helped by his wife Alma and showbiz friends, he returned to the club scene, and did some small walk-on parts in Coronation Street.

Then he played a tough-guy in The Strangers - the ITV thriller series - and really caught the eye of producers.

He was offered the part of dizzy Vera's husband and made an impact in the Street recently, posing as Vince St Clair at a video dating agency.

"Life has turned full circle for me, but that's showbiz," said Bill, who lives with Alma and their two children in Gorton, Manchester.