ITV Says Farewell Vera!
After 33 years and more than 3000 episodes, it’s time to say ‘ta-ra, chuck’ to one of the best-loved characters in British soap.
Vera Duckworth – brought to life by Liz Dawn – is departing Coronation Street after entertaining audiences with her fighting spirit, straight talking, flamboyant fashion sense and bust-ups with husband Jack for three decades.
She’s gone but will not be forgotten by Street fans and to mark the end of an era ITV1 is screening a special tribute programme: Farewell Vera.
Bill Tarmey, who plays Jack Duckworth, is one of a number of Street stars including Nigel Pivaro, Johnny Briggs, Julie Goodyear, William Roach MBE, Jenny McAlpine, Antony Cotton, Alan Halsall, and Vicky Binns who contribute to the farewell show, which is narrated by Matthew Kelly.
Vera first appeared in Weatherfield on 19th August 1974 when Harold Wilson was Prime Minister, The Osmonds were at No 1 in the charts with Love Me For A Reason, and Annie Walker was landlady of the Rovers Return.
She worked at Mike Baldwin’s factory and later moved into Number 9 Coronation Street with pigeon-lover husband Jack and wayward teenage son Terry in 1983, much to the dismay of their neighbours. But over the years, the Duckworths have become part of the furniture at the Rovers Return and Vera has become one of the most popular characters in the show’s history.
Liz Dawn tells the programme she’ll be devastated to leave. She says: “It’s been a natural part for me because I’m a lot like Vera in a lot of ways. I’ll be really, really sad when I say goodbye.”
She also reveals that she was very nervous on her first day, but got into the swing of things and was soon showing her rebellious side in the factory.
She says: “My first scenes were in the old factory, I was just so nervous and yet I enjoyed it.
“One day I said, ‘We should get more money for this really because we’re actually working a machine and acting.’ They took the needles out the following week.”
Among the cast members paying tribute to Liz is the actor who plays her screen husband, Jack who is left heartbroken when his lifelong sparring partner dies.
But Bill Tarmey is moved to tears when asked to say goodbye.
“They want me to say goodbye to you, silly old sod,” he says, before wiping his eyes.
Johnny Briggs adds: “She [Vera] was a living nightmare. She was quite cheeky and people like that. She wasn’t frightened of answering Mike Baldwin back.”
“Vera really does embody everything that is Coronation Street,” says Julie Goodyear, who played Bet Lynch in the soap.
Despite the many flings, break-ups and tearful rows, Jack and Vera last year celebrated their Golden Wedding anniversary.
Bill adds: “The way things run in the world now, there would be two dozen reasons for Jack and Vera to split up, but they never have. Til death do us part.”
Sunday 3 February 2008 5:45pm – 6:15pm on ITV1.