Perrie in The Ghost Of Ivy Tilsley, a documentary about her career and her role on Coronation Street(1996).
7 April 1931
Rotherham, South Yorkshire, England, UK
|Died||24 March 2006
Rotherham, England, UK
|Spouse(s)||Derrick Barksby (1950-2006) 1 Child|
Jean Dudley, known professionally as Lynne Perrie (7 April 1931 - 24 March 2006), was an English actress, singer, comedienne, presenter and author. Born in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, she was the older sister of comedian and actor Duggie Brown. She was best known for her roles as Mrs Casper in Ken Loach's 1969 film Kes, Mrs. Petty in the television series Queenie's Castle, and as Ivy Tilsley in Coronation Street from 1971 until 1994.
In March 1994, Perrie was reportedly fired from Coronation Street due to having cosmetic lip enhancements which dramatically changed her appearance. The significant publicity she subsequently received made her a subject of ridicule, and her career and reputation suffered as a result. For the next three years she became a media personality, and made high profile appearances on entertainment shows like The Word and Shooting Stars, which were notable for the fact that she appeared to be drunk live on the air. Her lifestyle and eccentric behavior became almost as well known as her long career in show business, and in 1996 she was the subject of a Channel 4 film The Ghost Of Ivy Tilsley.
In 1956, Lynne Perrie entered show-business professionally as a singer and comedienne, after performing at the Rotherham Trade Centre and receiving a further twenty-seven bookings. She decided to give up her factory work, and go into cabaret full time.
Throughout the 1960s, Perrie was often billed and referred to as 'Little Miss Dynamite', due to her vibrant personality and performance. In her capacity as a singer, 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. Other stars she shared the same bill as included the Rolling Stones, Sacha Distel, Rod Stewart and the Faces, Engelbert Humperdinck and Shirley Bassey.
In her book, "Secrets of the Street", Perrie recalled how she had made headlines during her first 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.".
From 1964-1968, Perrie made several television appearances as a guest artist, notably on the popular ITV Stars and Garters variety show, with Kathy Kirby, and The Good Old Days, the BBC's long-running light entertainment programme.
Despite later concentrating primarily on acting, Perrie still continued to perform her variety act in the clubs throughout her time as an actress on Coronation Street. In her book, she revealed that she sang on the first night of Peter Stringfellow's Hippodrome 'Gay Evening' in London, adding: "I always had a loyal gay following – and the lesbians loved me too!".
By this time, 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." 
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 award-winning 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.
Perrie's role in the film, which achieved international acclaim, 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 known for her acid tongue. As a result, Ivy Tilsley was nicknamed 'Poison Ivy' by the media.
During the early 1970s, whilst still only a semi-regular on Coronation Street, Perrie was always available to take up other acting work. She appeared in early episodes of several popular television shows such as the children's serials Follyfoot and The Intruder, in which she starred as Mavis the hairdresser, the long-running courtroom drama series Crown Court and the sitcom The Cuckoo Waltz.
Perrie's first regular television role was 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 busy-bodying residents' association secretary with conservative values. Queenie's Castle was first broadcast on bonfire night in 1970 and ran for two years. eighteen episodes were made, and Perrie appeared in nine of them.
She also appeared in two television plays written by Colin Welland, of whom had appeared in Kes. The first, 1970's Slattery's Mounted Foot saw her playing a pub regular, and in 1974, she starred as the pivotal role of a militant union leader in the BBC Play For Today factory drama Leeds United. Upon Perrie's death, the film's director Roy Battersby praised her work and wrote in an obituary letter to The Guardian newspaper: "The bravura of the performance by Lynne Perrie was, and remains, glorious.
In 1976, she played Cora in Riding South in the BBC 2 Centre Play Showcase series, and in 1977, appeared alongside Phil Daniels, Warren Clarke, Michael Elphick and Kenneth Haigh in an ITV Sunday Night Drama called A Good Human Story.
Perrie turned down the role of Mrs. Shenton in John Schlesinger's wartime romance Yanks in 1978, after she was given the option of a regular contract with Coronation Street. However, she also appeared in the movie as a speaking face in the crowd. She was credited simply as 'Woman at Railway Station', and when a girl pushed forward shouting that she was pregnant, Lynne was called on to retort: "So's half the bloody town, love." 
During her years as Ivy Tilsley, Perrie appeared as herself on television shows such as Des O'Connor Tonight and Family Fortunes, in which she took part on the same team as other veterans like Gordon Kaye, Buster Merryfield, June Whitfield and Paul Shane in the 1991 celebrity edition.
Departure from Coronation Street
In March 1994, without consulting her Coronation Street bosses, Perrie had cosmetic surgery to make her lips look fuller, but the results were unflattering, and Perrie was sacked from the show after twenty-three years as Ivy. The press speculated that her departure was a direct result of her plastic surgery, though Perrie denied this, insisting that she felt that her character had simply run its course. This version of events matched accounts given by the show's then producer Carolyn Reynolds. Ivy Tilsley died off-screen the following year.
Perrie's new image was widely ridiculed by the media, and was something she would later regret. In 2003, by which time she had retired, she was interviewed on ITV's Facelifts From Hell programme in which she revealed: "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." 
Post-Coronation Street career
Following her dismissal from Coronation Street, Perrie began writing her controversial autobiography Secrets of The Street, which was launched in November 1994. The book became a bestseller, and was met with mostly positive reviews from the tabloid press; the Daily Mail described it as "Fascinating and revealing". Nevertheless, it caused shockwaves across the nation, the public were surprised to read that Perrie was so different from her soap character. The book contained behind the scenes information about Coronation Street, and admissions of feuds with several of her co-stars during her time on the show. Granada TV attempted to ban its publication, and Perrie had to attend court over the attempted injunction.
Aside from writing, in 1994 she had a cameo in Mike Reid's cult adult pantomime video Pussy in Boots as Poison Ivy and presented the programme 'Clairvoyants' for ITV's The Tuesday Special slot. 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. 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."
In 1995, she starred in the VHS Lynne Perrie's Alternative Workout, a parody of an exercise programme, 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. The video was a commercial failure, and deleted in 1997, just two years after its release.
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. By this stage, Perrie had returned to the stage with a new cabaret act, and found regular work as an after-dinner speaker, which she did alongside television chat show appearances. There were various reports at the time that Perrie was set to make a television comeback as an actress, in a six-part drama to be filmed in Spain . The idea of the series, however, was dropped. She did visit Spain towards the end of the year to perform the Frank Sinatra' hit "My Way" in a televised concert.
Perrie continued to cause controversy, and scandalized the country when she appeared on the adult channel Television X. On one of the shows, she was seen pulling down a young stripper's thong, and proceeded to lick his revealed penis.
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 since leaving Coronation Street, she 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, clips of her were shown performing "I Miss The Hungry Years" in a Manchester nightclub.
After the programme was broadcast, Perrie appeared on the 'Ladies Night' special of BBC2's celebrity quiz show Shooting Stars, which was notable for the fact that she was drunk live on the air.
On Christmas Day 1996, she starred in an advert for Pepsi, which was part of a series of six humorous commercials in the style of The Word, which had been axed the year before. She was seen walking down the isle to marry a monkey at the altar .
In 1997, Perrie was reunited with her screen son Christopher Quinten, when both actors appeared 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 regular appearance on the ITV daytime chat show Afternoon Live, before retiring from the show business that had been her life for over three decades. After this, she gradually faded into obscurity.
Towards the end of her life, Perrie took up work as a celebrity bingo caller in Blackpool. She also made the occasional television appearance, her last was on Channel 4's countdown of the Greatest TV Soap Moments in 2004, presented by her friend Mike Reid.
|1964||Stars and Garters||Singer|
|1968||The Good Old Days||Singer|
|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|
|1975||The Cuckoo Waltz||Mrs Truscott|
|1977||A Good Human Story||Mrs. Gibbs|
|1978||Crown Court||Carol Lawley (3 episodes)|
|1989||Kazuko's Karaoke Klub||Contestant/Singer|
|1994||Pussy in Boots||Poison Ivy|
|1994||The Chrystal Rose Show||Interviewee|
|1994||The Tuesday Special||Presenter|
|1995||Lynne Perrie's Alternative Workout||Herself|
|1996||The Ghost Of Ivy Tilsley||Subject of film|
Life and family
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. By the age of 14, she had 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.
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." 
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  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. She told various journalists at the time that she was planning on making 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. 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."
Lynne Perrie's life and work were acknowledged at the British Academy Television Awards in 2006.
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 .
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." 
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 the plays 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 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".
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."
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- Secrets Of The Street, Lynne Perrie, 1994
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- "Obituary letter: Lynne Perrie". The Guardian (London). 30 March 2006.
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- "CORRIE'S POISON IVY DIES 74 - Mirror Online". Mirror.co.uk. 26 March 2006. Retrieved 10 February 2013.
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- Secrets Of The Street, Lynne Perrie, 1994, page 198
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