Roy Barraclough, the actor best known for his work on Coronation Street and with Les Dawson, has died aged 81.

Roy as landlord Alec Gilroy in Granada Television’s Coronation Street.

“My dearest friend Roy Barraclough has passed away at 6am this morning. I have no words to describe how devastated I feel. We kept in close touch and spoke to each other at least 2 or 3 times every week. I will treasure all the happy times we had working and laughing together. We were just like a married couple, crazy, I know, but true. Rest in peace Roy. I will always love you.” – Corrie co-star Julie Goodyear

Roy Barraclough was born in Preston in 1935, his first line of work was as a technical designer, but set off into the world of show business when he joined the entertainment staff of Warners’ Holiday Camp on the Isle of Wight. This lead to theatre work and by the early 1960s Roy had been put on the talent books of an agency.

In 1964 he made the first of a couple of small-part appearances in Granada Television’s Coronation Street – it wouldn’t be until the 1970s he would first portray his most famous Weatherfield role.

His first major part in a serial was with Castle Haven, set and produced in Leeds by Yorkshire Television. The storyline followed the residents who lived in a Victorian apartment block. Roy played Harry Everitt opposite on-screen wife Kathy Staff as Lorna. The pair would become great friends, and Roy recalled many years later how some train passengers took them for a real couple when they were rehearsing their lines on their commute to the YTV studios.

YTV days: two photos from comedy series Sez Les with Les Dawson.

When Kathy died in 2008, Roy was given the honour of unveiling her memorial plaque which was placed, in 2010, on the side of St Marks Church in Dukinfield.

Another long running friendship was also formed in the 1970s when Yorkshire Television paired up Roy with comedian Les Dawson in his sketch show series, Sez Les. Their best known outing was the gossiping women, of a certain age, Cissie and Ada. The duo proved popular and Roy and Les worked together over Dawson’s many ITV and BBC comedy series’.

Les died in 1993, while working on plans for a Cissie and Ada sitcom. By this time Roy had made himself a television name with roles in shows such as Thames Television’s The Lovers where he appears in the first series as a “grumpy barman” he returned to YTV for Leonard Rossiter sitcom Rising Damp, playing an effeminate bar staff member as well as various other small parts in shows such as George and Mildred, Bergerac and The Bounder.

Coronation Street moments: With Julie Goodyear, top, and the late Betty Driver, bottom.

By this point in his career he had already appeared as Alec Gilroy in Coronation Street. His first appearance came in 1972 returning in 1975, with Alec at this time portrayed as a rather sleazy theatrical agent to night club singer Rita Littlewood. He would return as a regular in 1986 where the comedy partnership between himself and Julie Goodyear, as Bet Lynch, was formed as the couple who loved to hate each other.

On screen Bet became Mrs Gilroy in 1988, he however left her in 1992 and by the time Roy returned in 1996 Julie had quit the series the previous year. His final appearance as Alec came in 1998, he in recent times suggested he’d no longer fit into the fictional Weatherfield surroundings as Corrie isn’t humour based anymore.

Back to Yorkshire Television for an appearance in Heartbeat.

Although quitting the Manchester based production twenty years ago Roy continued to make theatre and television appearances including in last years BBC One tribute to Are You Being Served? where he took on the role of Mr Grainger, one of the more successful elements of the one off special.

He had also appeared in dramas including Yorkshire Television’s 1960s based Heartbeat and BBC Drama series Last Tango in Halifax. He was reunited in the BBC Three comedy series Revolver with Juile Goodyear, as well as a host of other well known sitcom stars such as Hi-De-Hi’s Ruth Maddoc and worked on-screen with Kathy Staff one final time in Last of the Summer Wine.

ITV have stated that this evening’s edition of Coronation Street, which is airing all week at 9pm, will be dedicated to the memory of Roy as a tribute to the much loved actor. Roy passed away earlier today at the Willow Wood Hospice in Ashton-under-Lyne, Greater Manchester, after a short illness.

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