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Lynne Perrie
Lynne Perrie.jpg
Lynne Perrie speaking on The Ghost Of Ivy Tilsley documentary (1996).
Born Jean Dudley
(1931-04-07)7 April 1931
Rotherham, West Riding of Yorkshire, England, UK
Died 24 March 2006(2006-03-24) (aged 74)
Rotherham, England, UK
Occupation Actress, singer
Years active 1956–1997
Spouse(s) Derrick Barksby (1950-2006) 1 Child
Children Stephen

Lynne Perrie (7 April 1931 - 24 March 2006) was an English actress and nightclub singer. She was born Jean Dudley in Rotherham, West Riding of Yorkshire, and was the sister of comedian Duggie Brown. She was best known for her roles as Mrs Casper in Ken Loach's 1969 film Kes, and as Ivy Tilsley in Coronation Street from 1971 until 1994.

Singing career[edit]

An early publicity shot of Lynne Perrie

At the age of 14, Perrie started singing in working men's clubs under the stage name of 'Dizzy' with a local dance band for six shillings (6/-) (30p) on a Saturday night.

In 1956, she entered show-business as a singer and comedienne professionally, after performing at the Rotherham Trade Centre and receiving a further twenty-seven bookings.

Billed as 'Little Miss Dynamite',[1] throughout the 1960s she appeared throughout the British Isles working in variety, clubs and concerts, including eight at London’s Royal Albert Hall.

In 1964, she supported the Beatles for fifteen concerts, during a six-week tour at coastal resorts on Sundays. She also appeared on the same bill as the Rolling Stones and worked with the likes of Sacha Distel, Rod Stewart and the Faces, Engelbert Humperdinck and Shirley Bassey.[2]

As her popularity grew, Perrie toured South Africa seven times and also visited Germany, Paris, Australia and the United States.[3]

In her book, "'Secrets of the Street", Perrie recalled how she had made headlines during a tour of South Africa. She wrote: "(I performed in) a concert down the impressive Cango caves. A recording of the concert was released over there. I made history as the first female to perform so far under-ground.".[4]

From 1964-1968, Perrie made regular television appearances on two of the popular variety programmes of the day: Stars and Garters (ITV) and The Good Old Days (BBC). She also performed on the Royal Variety Performance in 1989.

Despite later concentrating primarily on acting, Perrie still continued to perform her variety act in the clubs throughout her time on Coronation Street. In her book, she recalled that she sang on the first night of Peter Stringfellow's Hippodrome 'Gay Evening' in London. She wrote: "I always had a loyal gay following – and the lesbians loved me too!".[5]

She was also often asked to work as a compere. Terry Dobson, a member of the pop band Black Lace recalled a time during the 1980s in his book: "Lynne Perrie was in and out of her dressing room, a change of costume between every act, not that much time, two songs, some six or so minutes and she was on the stage again, bring off the act, then introducing the next... brilliant, and very professional; you could tell she had been doing this sort of thing for years." [6]

Perrie also continued to sing occasionally on television, notably on a UK charity Telethon in 1990, where she performed "Ships that Pass in the Night".

Acting career[edit]

Perrie made her acting debut as Mrs Casper in the 1969 film Kes. Although she had no formal acting training, she had a natural quality which she brought to the screen and her performance in the film received positive reviews from the critics. As recently as 2011, one critic wrote: "Lynne Perrie is outstanding as Mrs. Casper, infusing her steely exterior with real vulnerability and pathos.[7]

Perrie's role in the film ultimately led to her getting the part of Ivy Tilsley (later Brennan) in the soap opera, Coronation Street. The show's casting director Paul Bernard had seen her in Kes and cast her without audition. She first appeared in 1971 as a minor character, but the producers were sufficiently impressed with her performance to offer her a more substantial role from the mid-1970s, when the character was joined by her family and moved into a house on Coronation Street. The character became infamous for interfering and was nicknamed 'Poison Ivy' by the media.

During the 1970s, Perrie also kept up with other acting work, appearing in early episodes of television shows such as Follyfoot, The Intruder (starring as Mavis in the episode of the same name), Crown Court and The Cuckoo Waltz.

She had a regular television role in the popular Yorkshire TV comedy series Queenie's Castle (1970-1972), written by Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall. The sitcom starred Diana Dors, and Perrie played her arch-enemy Mrs. Petty, the residents' association secretary with conservative values.

In 1974, she played the pivotal role of a militant union leader in the BBC Play For Today factory drama Leeds United, written by Colin Welland. Upon Perrie's death, the films' director Roy Battersby wrote in The Guardian newspaper: "The bravura of the performance by Lynne Perrie was, and remains, glorious.[8] This was one of two Welland plays in which Perrie appeared in, the first being Slattery's Mounted Foot for the ITV Sunday Night Theatre slot in 1970.

In 1976, she played Cora in Riding South in the BBC 2 Centre Play Showcase series.

In 1977, she appeared alongside Phil Daniels, Michael Elphick and Kenneth Haigh in an ITV Sunday Night Drama called A Good Human Story.

In 1994, without consulting her bosses on the programme, Perrie had cosmetic surgery to make her lips look fuller, but the results were unflattering, and Perrie was sacked from Coronation Street after twenty-three years, though she denied this, saying her character had simply run its course. Ivy Tilsley died off-screen the following year.

Perrie later regretted her plastic surgery. She was interviewed in 2003 on ITV's Facelifts From Hell programme in which she said: "“Everyone was laughing and calling me fishface. I couldn'’t go anywhere without the cameras following me. I don'’t think plastic surgery is an answer to it all, you’'ve got to be happy with yourself.”" [9]

Post-Coronation Street career[edit]

Following her dismissal from Coronation Street in 1994, Perrie published her autobiography Secrets of The Street. The book became a bestseller, and was met with positive reviews from the tabloid press; the Daily Mail described it as "Fascinating and revealing".

Aside from writing, Perrie had a cameo in Mike Reid's adult pantomime video Pussy in Boots as Poison Ivy and presented 'Clairvoyants' for ITV's The Tuesday Special slot.[10] She also appeared as a guest on a variety of chat shows, including Channel 4's The Word, where (amongst other acts) she performed her own rendition of Gloria Gaynor's I Will Survive. The performance was voted by the public as number 62 on Channel 4's list of 100 Greatest TV Moments from Hell, and was repeated on Channel 4's 2001 series The Best Of The Word.[11] It was reported in the press at the time that Perrie had appeared drunk live on the air, but in 2012, the show's presenter Terry Christian said: "She been on anti-depressants - she wasn't even drinking before the show. Her speech was all slurred because of the medication; her son had been diagnosed with AIDS that week, but of course, the papers didn't report on that."[12]

In 1995, she made Lynne Perrie's Alternative Workout, a parody of an exercise video in which she appeared in a series of short comedy sketches, which generally consisted of her helping toned, athletic young men out of their workout clothing.

In early 1996, the character of Ivy Brennan was brought back to Coronation Street as a ghost. In a long-running storyline, several residents claimed to have seen the spirit of Ivy around various areas of the street. Perrie was not asked to go back to film any scenes and had now returned to the stage with a new cabaret act. She had also found work as an after-dinner speaker. There were various reports at the time that Perrie was set to make a television comeback in a six-part drama to be filmed in Spain. The idea of the series, however, was dropped. Whilst in Spain, she performed Frank Sinatra's "My Way" in a televised concert.

In October of the same year, Perrie was the subject of a Channel 4 documentary entitled The Ghost Of Ivy Tilsley, part of a series of programmes exploring the dark side of fame. In the film, Perrie was seen looking through newspaper cuttings and packing mementos of her career into cardboard boxes as she prepared to leave her mock Tudor house in Salford. She had decided to return to Yorkshire to live with her husband and care for her HIV stricken son. Perrie told everyone she had finally realised that fame was not important. "I didn't really want the fame to start off with. But gradually as you get it, it's like taking drugs. The more you get, the more you want" she said. Throughout the documentary, there were clips of her performing "I Miss The Hungry Years" in a nightclub.

After the documentary was broadcast, Perrie appeared on the 'Ladies Night' special of BBC2's celebrity quiz show Shooting Stars. On Christmas Day, she starred in an advert for Pepsi, which was part of a series of six humorous commercials in the style of The Word,[13] which had been axed the year before.

In 1997, Perrie briefly resumed her acting career in an episode of BBC4's radio sitcom Harry Hill's Fruit Corner. At the same time, her health was poor and was deteriorating further, leaving her unable to perform. She made her last television appearance for years on the ITV daytime chat show Afternoon Live,[14] before retiring from showbusiness. She then quickly faded into almost complete obscurity.

Towards the end of her life, she took up work as a celebrity bingo caller in Blackpool. Her last television appearance was on Channel 4's Greatest TV Soap Moments in 2004, presented by Mike Reid.

Selected Filmography[edit]

Year Title Role
1964 Stars and Garters Singer
1968 The Good Old Days Singer
1969 Kes Mrs Casper
1970 Slattery's Mounted Foot Dotie Donaghue
1970-1972 Queenie's Castle Mrs Petty
1971-1994 Coronation Street Ivy Tilsley/Brennan
1972 The Intruder (TV series) Mavis
1974 Leeds United Mollie
1975 The Cuckoo Waltz Mrs Truscott
1976 Riding South Cora
1977 A Good Human Story Mrs. Gibbs
1978 Crown Court Carol Lawley (3 episodes)
1989 Fight Cancer Presenter
1989 Kazuko's Karaoke Klub Contestant/Singer
1990 Telethon Singer
1994 Pussy in Boots Poison Ivy
1994 The Chrystal Rose Show Interviewee
1994 The Tuesday Special Presenter
1994 The Word Interviewee/Singer
1995 Lynne Perrie's Alternative Workout Herself
1996 The Ghost Of Ivy Tilsley Subject of film
1996 Shooting Stars Contestant

Life and family[edit]

She attended Rotherham Girl's High School and, after passing her 11-plus, trained as a dispenser at Boots the chemist. She later abandoned her studies to concentrate on her singing career.

Perrie married carpenter Derrick Barksby in 1950 at the age of 20 and gave birth to her only son Stephen in 1951. Her terminally ill son came to prominence in the 2000s (decade) campaigning for assisted suicide. In her biography, she later admitted that she had had several affairs in the course of her marriage. Unbeknown to the public, for most of her working life, she and Derrick had lived separately. During her time as Ivy Tilsley, he chose to live alone in their modest Yorkshire home whilst she took up residence in Manchester to film her Coronation Street scenes. After a few public separations, Perrie insisted in 1996 that she and Barksby were back together for good.

Perrie also suffered intermittent health problems, including a heart attack and a cancer scare.

After learning that her son had been diagnosed with AIDS in 1994, Perrie started to suffer from depression. She said: "Any mother will understand the pain but for me it was much worse. He was my only child and we went through this under the spotlight of publicity." [15]

During her retirement in 2000, the Daily Mirror newspaper spoke to Lynne and in an interview she revealed that she was still suffering from manic depression [16] as well as memory loss and had recently spent ten weeks in a psychiatric hospital.

Perrie claimed towards the end of her life that her health was improving. Making several television appearances, she told various journalists at the time that she was planning a comeback. However, in keeping with what friends described as her manic depressive character, such a comeback never materialised.

Perrie died in Rotherham following a stroke, aged 74, on 24 March 2006.[17] Of her former Coronation Street colleagues, only Helen Worth and Christopher Quinten attended her funeral at Rotherham Crematorium. There, tributes to Perrie were paid. "She was an absolutely wonderful lass. A great entertainer and a fantastic actress. She was such great fun" said Quentin. Actor and comedian Paul Shane added: "She was a great girl, a great entertainer, and she'’ll be sadly missed."[18]

Lynne Perrie's life and work were acknowledged at the British Academy Television Awards in 2006.

Addiction[edit]

At various stages of her life, Perrie was addicted to tranquillisers and suffered serious side-effects from slimming pills.

She admitted to once being addicted to gambling and confessed that she had "blown" more than £250,000 over the years on one-armed bandits .[19]

Abuse of alcohol was another problem, and her heavy drinking eventually earned her the nickname "Champagne Perrie". She said: "Although I polished off pints of the sauce ... I was not an alcoholic; I just had no inhibitions." [20]

Trivia[edit]

When she changed her stage name to Lynne Perrie, she was inspired by Gordon Pirie, a Yorkshire athlete.

Over the years, Perrie worked with her brother Duggie Brown in television and film. Brown played the milkman in Kes and also had roles in Slattery's Mounted Foot and Leeds United. In 1996, she appeared as a guest on Cryer's Crackers, a regional game show in which Brown was a regular team captain.

She also worked opposite Freddie Fletcher several times, Fletcher played her oldest son in Kes, one of Diana Dors' sons in Queenie's Castle and in 1981 he appeared as Bob Whitely in Coronation Street.

In 1979, John Schlesinger offered Perrie a role in his film Yanks, her co-star would have been Richard Gere. She turned the part down after being offered a full-time stint on Coronation Street. Instead, she appeared as a face in the crowd and had just one line: "So's half the bloody town, love", which proved popular with the American audience and was used in all of the reviews.

In 1985, Perrie contributed four songs on Coronation Street, The 25th Anniversary Album. The tracks were "You Needed Me", "Locomotion", "On the Sunny Side of the Street" and "We'll Meet Again".

As a cancer survivor, in 1989 she co-presented a six-part health programme called Fight Cancer for BBC1. With newscaster Martyn Lewis, she travelled around Britain talking to other survivors.

Over the years, Perrie appeared as a guest on numerous television shows such as Des O'Connor Tonight and Family Fortunes, in which she appeared on the same team as Gordon Kaye, Buster Merryfield, June Whitfield and Paul Shane in the 1991 celebrity edition.

Perrie was a supporter of British prime minister Margaret Thatcher. She described Thatcher in her book 'Secrets of the Street' as: "A great leader and a proper prime minister, the best we've had in my lifetime."

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Article: One last goodbye to Little Miss Dynamite.". AccessMyLibrary. 2006-04-06. Retrieved 2013-02-10. 
  2. ^ http://lynneperrie.weebly.com/stage.html
  3. ^ http://lynneperrie.weebly.com/stage.html
  4. ^ Secrets Of The Street, Lynne Perrie, 1994, page 89
  5. ^ Secrets Of The Street, Lynne Perrie, 1994
  6. ^ And Then Came Agadoo, Terry Dobson, 2009, page 190
  7. ^ http://www.eyeforfilm.co.uk/review/kes-film-review-by-david-graham
  8. ^ "Obituary letter: Lynne Perrie". The Guardian (London). 30 March 2006. 
  9. ^ The Sun (London) http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/woman/165753/The-face-lift-from-hell.html |url= missing title (help). 
  10. ^ http://www.itnsource.com/en/shotlist//ITVProgs/1994/11/29/914043/?s=lynne+perrie&st=1&pn=1
  11. ^ http://tv.msn.com/tv/series-episodes/best-of-the-word/
  12. ^ http://tv.uk.msn.com/exclusives/channel-4-at-30-terry-christian%E2%80%99s-memories-of-the-word
  13. ^ https://groups.google.com/forum/?hl=en&fromgroups=#!topic/rec.arts.tv.uk.coronation-st/Eu7-jPW8sKE
  14. ^ http://www.itnsource.com/en/shotlist//ITVProgs/1997/06/05/224500067/?s=lynne+perrie&st=1&pn=1
  15. ^ "CORRIE'S POISON IVY DIES 74 - Mirror Online". Mirror.co.uk. 26 March 2006. Retrieved 10 February 2013. 
  16. ^ "Coronation Street 1960-2000: Where are they now? Tracking down the wandering Rovers; Corrie made them household names, but what became of them when they left? By Sue Crawford. - Free Online Library". Thefreelibrary.com. Retrieved 10 February 2013. 
  17. ^ "Entertainment | Street actress Perrie dies at 75". BBC News. 25 March 2006. Retrieved 10 February 2013. 
  18. ^ CORINNE ABRAMS Sun Online (3 August 2007). "Street star laid to rest | The Sun |News". London: The Sun. Retrieved 10 February 2013. 
  19. ^ Secrets Of The Street, Lynne Perrie, 1994, page 198
  20. ^ "Lynne Perrie". The Daily Telegraph (London). 27 March 2006. 

External links[edit]


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