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

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Sport
Harry Redknapp. Mark Hughes and Ryan Shawcross
footballNews and updates as Queens Park Rangers host the Potters
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
New Articles
i100... with this review
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
New Articles
i100
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
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

Cover Supervisor

£75 - £90 per day + negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Are you a cover supe...

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam