Dear Bet Lynch

You left the `Street' last night, beehive and cigarette holder and all. Maybe, like the Rovers Return itself, you weren't a viable business in the Nineties, but we'll miss you, chuck

So, after 25 years as the nation's favourite barmaid, you've pulled your last pint, had your last "Bet Lynch breakfast" (a cup of tea and a fag - with cigarette holder, of course), taken your stupendous cleavage (Newton on the left, Ridley on the right) and tottered off, beehive and false eyelashes stiff and proud, to the netherworld of chat shows and panto known as life after soap.

Bet Lynch stars as Widow Twanky on Blackpool pier - I can see it now. If the stiletto fits, wear it. You see, chuck, what we loved about you was the way you mixed high camp with kitchen-sink pathos. Since you walked into the Rovers Return in 1970, an unmarried mum, you've had a string (17, to be exact) of mostly disastrous affairs (Len Fairclough, Mike Baldwin, even a one-night stand with Don Brennan - well, you had sunk a few). Your son, Martin, was killed in a car accident; your one and only marriage, to the squat and snivelling Alec Gilroy (not one of your better choices), ended in tears, with a miscarriage along the way.

You could have given Simone Signoret, who played the rejected older woman in Room at the Top, a run for her money. Or, for that matter, any of those stoic, put-upon women created by northern working-class writers like Stan Barstow, John Braine and Alan Sillitoe. The fact that the life of Julie Goodyear (unmarried mum, three failed marriages), the actress who immortalised you, so closely paralleled your own only made your character more resonant.

You brought to the Street something else, too, a defiant glamour that countless others, from Lily Savage to Margi Clarke, have tried to imitate. You were a back-street diva who knew that a bit of slap, a slash of lippy and a barbed quip could help to staunch the deepest wound. Get the Polyfilla and CFCs out, girl, as you so memorably advised Raquel when she fell apart after being cheated in love. You sounded wise in your role of matriarch precisely because you spoke from experience. Your ear-rings and leopardskin were inspirational; your way of handling a crisis was pragmatism itself.

That your lascivious (and how refreshing that was) and licentious attitude to sex has always been out of step with your options for coping with the consequences only made us love you more. When, for example, you got off with a Stetson-wearing trucker who looked like Sean Connery, we all knew it couldn't last, particularly with the hard-boiled and considerably more youthful Tanya scheming in the wings. But we also knew it wouldn't stop you going for broke the next time.

No, not respecting closing time was your undoing. While tears flowed, mascara ran, tea stewed in the back parlour and friends and lovers came and went, the Rovers remained the only constant in your life. And you belonged there - the brisk, brassy barmaid of archetype, the forerunner of EastEnders' Sharon and the Street's own Raquel. Over the years you fought tooth and polished nail to get and keep your name above the Rovers' door, only to find that, in true Nineties style, both Rita, one of your oldest friends, and your beloved adopted granddaughter, Vicky, refused to help you out because, they said, the Rovers was not a viable business. What next, then? Fruit machines and Sky TV?

Perhaps, though we'll all miss you, you're better off out of it. See you in Blackpool, chuck.


Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

    £40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

    Guru Careers: Software Developer

    £35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

    Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

    £25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

    Day In a Page

    Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

    Abuse - and the hell that follows

    James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
    Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

    It's oh so quiet!

    The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
    'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

    'Timeless fashion'

    It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
    If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

    Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

    Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
    New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

    Evolution of swimwear

    From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine