Lynne Perrie

Actress discovered by Ken Loach for 'Kes' who was for 25 years 'Poison' Ivy Tilsley in 'Coronation Street'


Jean Dudley (Lynne Perrie), actress and singer: born Rotherham, Yorkshire 7 April 1931; married 1950 Derrick Barksby (one son); died Rotherham, South Yorkshire 24 March 2006.

Principle was the guiding light in the world of Ivy Tilsley, the Coronation Street factory worker played for a quarter of a century by the night-club singer turned actress Lynne Perrie. But sticking to her principles gained Ivy, a staunch Roman Catholic and resident motormouth, both admiration and contempt from her friends and family.

When Hilda Ogden was sacked from her cleaning job at Baldwin's Casuals, Ivy - the shop steward - organised a walkout to demand her reinstatement. Later, when Ivy was stacking shelves at Bettabuys supermarket, Curly Watts pleaded for her reinstatement, on the grounds that she was going through difficult times during her second marriage, to Don Brennan.

Don and her down-to-earth first husband, Bert Tilsley, were both long- suffering. Ivy opposed her son Brian's marriage to the non-Catholic Gail Potter, so it was the gentle Bert who acted as peacemaker whenever the pair fell out. Ivy was devastated when Bert had a stroke and, later, died as a result of mental illness - and then at the fatal stabbing of Brian. When she married Don, another caring man, she fumed at his betting and gambling, and he lost patience with Ivy's obsession that her grandchildren should continue the Tilsley name after Gail married Martin Platt. This led Don to have an affair and, eventually, he left Ivy. When she hit the bottle and insisted that she could not beat her problem without him, he returned, but the couple lived separate lives.

In 1994, "Poison" Ivy was despatched to a religious retreat from which she never returned - Perrie had been sacked from Coronation Street after having cosmetic surgery to give her fuller lips. Newspapers reported that the actress had tissue from her buttocks injected into her mouth, giving her what some described as "the appearance of a baboon's bottom", but the serial's executive producer, Carolyn Reynolds, insisted that Perrie was axed simply because the writers had run out of storylines for her character. A year later, Street residents heard that Ivy had died of a stroke.

Lynne Perrie was born Jean Dudley, the daughter of a bricklayer, in a Coronation Street-style terrace in Rotherham, Yorkshire, in 1931. After passing the 11-plus and attending Rotherham Girls' High School, she trained as a dispenser at Boots but started her show-business career after passing an audition to sing with a local dance band for five shillings (25p) on Saturday evenings.

She married a carpenter, Derrick Barksby, at the age of 20 and worked as a "clippie" on the buses, then in a stocking factory. When, in 1954, her husband's uncle was let down by an act booked for his club, she stepped in, earned £4 10s and decided to give up her £5-a-week factory work to go into cabaret full-time. Over the next 15 years, she performed in France, Germany, South Africa and the United States, on the same bill as Sacha Distel, the Rolling Stones and, for 12 concerts, the Beatles.

The chance to act came when the director Ken Loach was scouring south Yorkshire to cast locals in his film classic Kes (1969), the tale of Billy Casper, a 15-year-old Barnsley schoolboy from a broken home whose destiny to work down a pit is temporarily relieved by the satisfaction of taming and training a rare bird. The drama was based on Barry Hines's 1968 novel A Kestrel for a Knave, Loach and his producer, Tony Garnett, saw Perrie's act in a Barnsley club - and, in her, Billy Casper's neglectful mother. She recalled:

They came backstage for a drink afterwards and were chatting about how they'd been auditioning for an actress to play the part of the mother

who used to leave her kids to go to the clubs and pubs. I was talking away, as usual, and I told them that it sounded like me - bunging the babysitter 10 bob and rushing off to perform, and they asked me if I wanted the part. I told them I wasn't an actress, but they said I was the natural they were looking for.

In fact, Kes was one of the earliest examples of Loach's practice of casting club entertainers in dramatic roles and Perrie's younger brother, the comedian Duggie Brown, played the milkman. After the film was critically and publicly acclaimed, Perrie found herself in demand.

She had a regular television role as Mrs Petty, neighbour, residents' association secretary and arch-rival of Queenie Shepherd (Diana Dors) in Queenie's Castle (1970-72), a Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall-created sitcom set in a tower block. She was also in two television plays written by Colin Welland, the only professional actor to have been cast in Kes: as a pub regular in Slattery Mounted Foot (1970) and a militant union leader in Leeds United (1974).

She first took the role of Coronation Street's Ivy Tilsley as a semi-regular cast member in 1971 and became a permanent fixture eight years later, when Ivy, her husband Bert (Peter Dudley) and son Brian (Christopher Quinten) moved into the terrace at No 5. Shortly before joining full-time, Perrie played a housewife in the film Yanks (1979), Colin Welland's story of American troops stationed in Yorkshire during the Second World War, directed by John Schlesinger and starring Richard Gere.

The actress had a long history of illness. Thirteen years after undergoing two operations for cervical cancer, she co-presented a health programme, Fight Cancer (1989), with the newscaster Martyn Lewis, in which she travelled around Britain talking to other survivors. She also had an operation for a faulty heart valve and, after suffering depression, underwent hormone replacement therapy. In 1996, two years after being written out of Coronation Street, she underwent a detox programme in a psychiatric ward to end an addiction to sleeping pills. Then, in 2000, she suffered a heart attack.

Lurid headlines followed Perrie during and after her spell in the Street. Her rendition of "I Will Survive" on the Channel 4 youth programme The Word (1994) earned her a place in that channel's The 100 Greatest Moments from TV Hell (2000) and Seven Days That Shook Coronation Street (2002). But she sank to her lowest depths in the video Lynne Perrie's Alternative Work-Out (1995); one critic described her as "a tragic old nymphomaniac fondling young men".

Perrie had several very public separations from her husband - and boasted of affairs with toyboys - but insisted in 1996 that she and Barksby were reunited for good. At the same time, a television documentary, The Ghost of Ivy Tilsley (1996), painted a tragic picture of the fallen star, whose only child, Stephen, had been diagnosed HIV-positive and developed Aids. The programme showed her looking through newspaper cuttings and packing mementos of her career into cardboard boxes as she prepared to leave her mock Tudor house in Salford. Reduced to the status of a celebrity bingo caller on the Yorkshire circuit, Perrie said:

I didn't really want the fame to start off with. But gradually, as you get it, it's like a drug - the more you get, the more you want.

Perrie, a dog- and horse-racing enthusiast, owned greyhounds and a colt named Maltby Lad at various times. She had a drink problem for many years and, once addicted to gambling, lost £200,000. Her autobiography, Secrets of the Street: my life as Ivy Tilsley, was published in 1994.

Anthony Hayward

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Kieron Richardson plays gay character Ste Hay in Channel 4 soap Hollyoaks
tv

Regular cast member Ste Hay, played by Kieron Richardson, is about to test TV boundaries

Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
techPerils of 'text neck' revealed
News
i100
News
Stonewall CEO Ruth Hunt
peopleStonewall boss says many fear it could ruin their careers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Argyll Scott International: FP&A Manager Supply Chain

Benefits: Argyll Scott International: Argyll Scott is recruiting for a Permane...

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property NQ+

£30000 - £50000 per annum + EXCELLENT: Austen Lloyd: COMMERCIAL PROPERTY SOLI...

Argyll Scott International: Retail Commercial Finance Analyst

Benefits: Argyll Scott International: Due to further expansion, a leading inte...

Langley James : Senior Technician; Promotion & Training Opp; Borough; upto £32k

£27000 - £32000 per annum + training: Langley James : Senior Technician; Promo...

Day In a Page

Synagogue attack: Fear unites both sides of Jerusalem as minister warns restoring quiet could take 'months'

Terror unites Jerusalem after synagogue attack

Rising violence and increased police patrols have left residents of all faiths looking over their shoulders
Medecins sans Frontieres: The Ebola crisis has them in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa

'How do you carry on? You have to...'

The Ebola crisis has Medecins sans Frontieres in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa
Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Residents in what was Iraq’s safest city fear an increase in jihadist attacks, reports Patrick Cockburn
Underwater photography competition winners 2014 - in pictures

'Mysterious and inviting' shot of diver wins photography competition

Stunning image of cenote in Mexico takes top prize
Sir John Major: Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting

Sir John Major hits out at theatres

Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting
Kicking Barbie's butt: How the growth of 3D printing enabled me to make an army of custom-made figurines

Kicking Barbie's butt

How the growth of 3D printing enabled toy-designer to make an army of custom-made figurines
Will Smith's children have made waves with a gloriously over-the-top interview, but will their music match their musings?

What are Jaden and Willow on about?

Will Smith's children have made waves with a gloriously over-the-top interview, but will their music match their musings?
Fridge gate: How George Osborne keeping his fridge padlocked shows a frosty side to shared spaces

Cold war

How George Osborne keeping his fridge padlocked shows a frosty side to shared spaces
Stocking fillers: 10 best loo books

Stocking fillers: 10 best loo books

From dogs in cars to online etiquette, while away a few minutes in peace with one of these humorous, original and occasionally educational tomes
Malky Mackay appointed Wigan manager: Three texts keep Scot’s rehabilitation on a knife-edge

Three texts keep Mackay’s rehabilitation on a knife-edge

New Wigan manager said all the right things - but until the FA’s verdict is delivered he is still on probation, says Ian Herbert
Louis van Gaal: the liberal, the enemy and... err, the poet

Louis van Gaal: the liberal, the enemy and... err, the poet

‘O, Louis’ is the plaintive title of a biography about the Dutchman. Ian Herbert looks at what it tells us about the Manchester United manager
Isis in Iraq: Baghdad hails the retaking of the Baiji oil refinery as the start of the long fightback against the Islamist militants

Isis takes a big step back

Baghdad hails the retaking of the Baiji oil refinery as the start of the long fightback against the Islamist militants
Bill Cosby: America’s beloved TV ‘dad’ or serial rapist?

Bill Cosby: America’s beloved TV ‘dad’ or serial rapist?

Ukip silk bow ties, Green Party T-shirts, and 'Iron Baby' romper suits: How to shop politically

How to shop politically

Ukip silk bow ties, Green Party T-shirts, and 'Iron Baby' romper suits
The science of sex: What happens when science meets erotica

Sex on the brain

Fetishes, dominatrixes, kinks and erotica. They are subjects that should get the crowds flocking to a new exhibition at the Wellcome Collection