Bill Tarmey played the role of lovable Jack Duckworth for 31 years before he left in 2010 when his character died…
At the time, Bill didn’t comment on why he’d left Coronation Street, but it was speculated that it was because of concerns for his own health, however later, he revealed that he’d said goodbye to Jack in order to spend more time with – and care for – his critically ill son Carl, who had been diagnosed with a brain tumour.
And in today’s Sunday Mirror, Bill has revealed the heartache his son’s illness has caused, and how 45 year old Carl is bravely battling against all odds to survive.
Bill said,“I know people thought I left the Street because I was about to conk it…
“But the truth is I needed to be with my family and with Carl.
“I was on the show for 31 years and loved every second. I thought you’d have to drag me off the set kicking and screaming.
“But when Carl became ill I’d be in scenes in the show and break down in tears. I couldn’t remember my lines. It got to the point when I couldn’t think of anything else but Carl.
“He’s 45, but he is my baby and always will be.”
And Carl explained how he first realized there was something very wrong. He said, “I was having a bowl of soup but when I lifted my spoon I couldn’t find my mouth.
“Then four days later I was in the car and I could not find the gear stick. When I did, I kept putting the car in reverse. It felt like I was being hit by a bus.
“I thought, ‘I am dying’.”
Within days, Carl was diagnosed with a brain tumour known as a glioma, and a biopsy showed it was malignant.
Of the moment he learned about Carl’s life threatening condition, Bill said, “It was heartbreaking. I remember being at Carl’s bedside saying to him, ‘Come on son, we can come through this, we are lions’.
“Then I’d go home and shout at God, ‘Why me?’ I’m not a religious man but I prayed. Oh, how I prayed.”
Bill’s wife Alma of course suffered just as much as Bill was as she watched helplessly as her son bravely fought against the illness.
She said, “Bill and Carl have always been joined at the hip. When he was a toddler, Carl and Bill would go off each Sunday to a zoo near our home.
“As he got older Carl played semiprofessional football and Bill never missed a game.”
The article adds that Carl has been told he has around five years to live, but that he may live longer.
Bill added, “When I first spoke to Carl about his condition he just looked at me and said ‘Dad you know what? S*** happens’. I mean, how brave is that?
“Carl has the odd moment when he is not well. He’ll bump into things and we’ll joke that we’ll buy him some shinpads.
“His last scan showed things have not got any worse and that’s all that matters. In the long-term, it’s just a case of fingers crossed.
“Every day I just try to be there for Carl. For 31 years I got up at 5.30am stuck the kettle on and read my Corrie script.
“I still get up at the same time, but now I sit in the lounge and wait for my Carl to come round. He’ll do a bit of ironing for his mum and we’ll sit and talk.”
Next month, as Bill and Alma celebrate their golden wedding anniversary, they’re throwing a big dinner party which will also raise funds for charity, Brain Tumour Research.
Bill said, “We’ll be raising money on the night for Brain Tumour Research.
“I’m looking forward to it and seeing my old friends. But more than anything I am looking forward to sitting there and having a pint with my son.”
What a brave and lovely family.