Rebecca Tyrrel: Laurence Olivier nobly taught Julie Goodyear how to stage-vomit


Who knew that Julie Goodyear, aka Bet Lynch, that foghorn-voiced diva of the Rover's Return, is an alumna of the Lucie Clayton Charm Academy? She attended the Manchester arm of the college in the early 1960s, and shame on anyone who suggests that it was any less rarefied than the mother branch in South Kensington. Can even the most obsessive Coronation Street fan remember glimpsing Bet's knickers (leopard-print) as she exited Len Fairclough's Toyota Corolla?

Julie must have negotiated the book-balanced-on-the-top-of-head debutante walk despite that massive beehive, for she sailed through the course so impressively that those insightful pedagogues at Clayton put her forward for an audition at Granada television in 1966. And so Bet Lynch was born, and quickly repaid their instruction in her first Corrie job by giving a PVC factory worker a black eye during a dispute over which was the superior welder.

Uncannily, the exact career trajectory envisaged for her pupils by Sylvia Golledge when she founded Lucie Clayton in 1928 was a quick progression from welding-related brawling to yelling, "Time, ladies and gentlemen, please, you've all got homes to go to. Yes, Ena Sharples, you an' all, so sup up yer milk stout kidda".

The young Julie already had extensive modelling experience before she enrolled at the charm academy. Born in 1942 in a terraced house in Rochdale, in a road named Pickup Street with startling prescience for one who would amass such a range of lovers of both genders (including the late Justin Fashanu, the only English footballer to out himself as gay), she had already done with the shotgun marriage which produced a son at 17.

She won an array of titles, including Miss Britvic, Miss Astral Cream (she does have lovely hands) and Miss Aeronautical Society. As a nod to this, the Coronation Street producers gave Bet Lynch a back-story that featured her triumph in the contest for Miss Weatherfield 1955.

During her early days on the soap, she met Laurence Olivier who nobly filled in one of perhaps only two gaps from her Clayton's training, by teaching her how to stage-vomit. The other concerned the precise etiquette required when a stalker perches in a nearby tree. Julie found the ideal solution on her own, however, making the stalker her fourth husband. It will delight her Clayton teachers that the Duchess of York went to the wedding.