I see Julie Goodyear is 50 on Wednesday. How many years has she been in `Coronation Street'?

She started in 1966, when her character Bet Lynch got a job at the raincoat factory. Unfortunately, she got the sack after two weeks.

Why, couldn't she handle the sewing?

No, Julie got the sack, because Granada found out she had no training or experience, which were thought to be important in the days before Neighbours.

And was that really the case?

Not exactly. She had sung "Blue Moon" at the Bury Palais, although she was somewhat discouraged when a member of the audience threw a meat pie at her.

So how did she turn herself into the distinguished actress of today?

She went off to Oldham Rep to learn the trade, under the wing of Pat Phoenix, who played Elsie Tanner. She was back on the Street by 1970.

Pulling pints at the Rovers' Return?

No, acting. Bet, on the other hand, returned to work in a launderette, but was called to the bar immediately thereafter. In 1985, she took over the tenancy, and now she's a national institution.

And has there been much romance in her life?

Well, she's had three marriages. The first, at 17, lasted three years. The second ended when her husband fled the reception, horrified by her fans. The third was to an American she met on a plane. A gay footballer also claimed an affair...

I must have missed those episodes. When were they?

No. This was Julie. Bet has only married the once, to Alec Gilroy, her partner at the Rovers, but he ran off to be an entertainer on a cruise ship.

And which one survived cancer?

Julie again. Afterwards, she set up a charity fund to open a laboratory for smear tests, but was accused of a fiddle. But she was acquitted and the lab was built.

And does she have an unfulfilled ambitions?

To have her own chat show. She did a pilot last year.

And how did she approach that?

With a beehive hairdo, big earrings, a cigarette holder and an announcement that the show would give ordinary people "the chance to talk about 'owt they want". The guests included Kathy Lette, Max Clifford and Nina Myskow.

And what else did she promise?

"With luck there'll be laughter, but there may be tantrums and tears."

And were there?

Not on screen.

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