LYNNE PERRIE Actress
Born: 7 April, 1931, in Rotherham. Died: 24 March, 2006, in Rotherham, aged 75.
EVERYONE knew her as "Poison Ivy". Her character in Coronation Street became increasingly irritating as she interfered and generally made herself the Street's principal monster. Lynne Perrie's Ivy Tilsley was someone people loved to hate and in almost two decades in the soap, she represented the hard-done-by working-class woman. In truth, she never endeared herself to her fictional neighbours or audience. Worse, in 1993, Perrie - without any discussion with her bosses at Granada - underwent surgical enhancement on her face that simply did not enhance. Her lips seemed, under lights and on camera, as if they were full of rubber and she received a great deal of unfortunate publicity. So unfortunate that Granada sacked her and she was written out of the soap. Unwisely, Perrie then went and wrote an expos of the Street and its stars, incurring the wrath of friends and public.
Lynne Perrie (born Jean Dudley) made many stage appearances as a child singer under the name of Dizzy. She and her brother played the clubs in the north but she found work difficult to get after she married in 1950. Perrie was a bus conductress before, in 1956, she returned to the stage to perform on the northern cabaret circuit. She also received bookings in the larger halls and supported such emerging stars as The Beatles (they called her "Girly") and Sacha Distel.
Her big break came in 1970 when she was cast opposite Diana Dors in an ITV sitcom called Queenie's Castle and then the mother in Ken Loach's film Kes. It was directly from them that Perrie was offered a role in Coronation Street. Initially the bubbly but acid tongued newcomer with bleached blond hair worked in Baldwin's textile factory. But in his autobiography the producer Bill Padmore wrote that: "Lynne injected the character with such a life it had to be expanded and made regular." Ivy and Vera Duckworth made a formidable duo when there were any industrial problems - as there often were.
But it was on the home front that Ivy Tilsley won her spurs as Poison Ivy. Her strong Catholic beliefs put her in competition with her son, Brian, and his wife, Gail (Helen Worth). Gail had to become a Catholic in 1976 before the marriage and the plot got murky when they spent some months in Ivy's house. Tragedy and heartbreak was never far away from Ivy as her husband was killed and then Brian and Gail divorced in 1979 only to remarry in 1988. All unforgivable for Ivy.
Then in June 1989, Ivy married the taxi driver Don Brennan and their verbal fights about his infidelity and gambling lit up the Street for many months. Her voice rasped at anyone in the Rovers' Return and her annoying cackle irritated the entire population of Wetherfield. One famous line, spat out by Don, summed up their acrimonious marriage: "If my wife put her mind to it, she could find reasons why Joseph and Mary were unfit parents." However much the critics carped, Perrie created one of those strong domineering women so loved by "Corrie".
But Perrie's personal life went from bad to worse. She suffered much ill health and tragedy - cancer of the womb was followed by a serious car crash and then her son was diagnosed as HIV positive - all worsened by her own addiction to alcohol (she drank a lethal cocktail of brandy and Babycham) and gambling. This behaviour made her an unreliable colleague and when she turned up after the cosmetic surgery, Granada wrote her out of the Street.
Perrie then wrote her unfortunate book and in some desperation allowed Channel Four to make a dire programme, The Ghost of Ivy Tilsley, that depicted her making ends meet as a celebrity bingo caller in Blackpool. She appeared on a chat show, clearly very emotional, and sang I Will Survive. It was all very unsavoury.
She died of a stroke and her husband and son survive her.