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ATV Icon: Julie Goodyear

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ATV Icon: Julie Goodyear

Julie Goodyear is the latest shining star entered into the ATV Icons Hall of Fame.

Julie Goodyear was born in Heywood, Lancashire, and developed a passion for acting at a young age. Her career in the entertainment industry took off when she landed the role of Bet Lynch in the top-rating ITV twice-weekly drama serial Coronation Street (Granada Television) in 1966. Her portrayal of Bet, with her distinctive beehive hairstyle and glamorous wardrobe, made her one of the most recognizable and beloved characters in the history of British television.

Born on March 29th 1942 she was known before fame as Julie Kemp, daughter of George and Alice, who divorced when she was six years old. She later took the surname of her mother’s second husband, William Goodyear. Her grandmother, Elizabeth Duckworth, played an active role in her upbringing. She drowned when Julie was a teenager – just one tragedy in a private life that has seen many highs and lows.

Her first dabble in the world of television came with The Man in Room 17, produced at Granada Television in Manchester it was the start of regular work for the North West ITV station which in the same year of 1965 included appearances in Corrie spin-off comedy Pardon The Expression. Also for Granada came a role in ITV’s Play of the Week in 1966 as well as the creation of Bet Lynch. Originally a factory worker Bet didn’t hang around too long after her first episodes, with Julie joining Oldham Repertory Theatre to gain more acting experience following advice from Patricia Phoenix – Corrie’s legendary Elsie Tanner.

Julie Goodyear as Bet, Doris Speed as Annie and Betty Driver as Betty in Corrie. ITV/Granada

Following her first brief stint in Weathefield Julie also continued to be a regular at Granada in productions such as the drama Mr. Rose (1967), sitcoms Nearest and Dearest (1968/1970) and The Dustbinmen (1969/1970) and period saga A Family At War (1970).  In 1969 she also played a small role in the big screen production of Kes but it was the Quay Street Studios of Granada that would become her professional home for 25 years as a regular on Coronation Street.

The return storyline saw Bet hired by Billy Walker as a barmaid in The Rovers Return, while his mother, landlady Annie Walker, was on holiday. In the 1980s Bet herself became the landlady, survived a major fire, handled the death of her son and then life went downhill when she married dubious businessman Alec Gilroy.

Goodyear left the show in 1995, shortly after winning a Lifetime Achievement Award at the inaugural National Television Awards. Several returns to the soap followed; the first in 1999 for a special run of late-night episodes set in Brighton. She made a further return to the saga – now making five episodes a week – in 2002, however, quit after finding the schedule too demanding as the serial had turned into a five-episodes-a-week soap opera by this point.

She returned one last time in 2003, as part of a storyline set in Blackpool involving Liz McDonald and her husband Jim, who had recently escaped prison. Other work, since quitting soap, has included performing in a BBC sketch series and working as a television presenter and radio host.

She has also been a feature of reality TV with appearances on Celebrity Fit Club, Come Dine With Me, and Stars In Their Eyes. In 2012 Goodyear finished in seventh place in Channel 5’s Summer Celebrity Big Brother, the same year she ruled out any future return for Bet to Coronation Street.

Over the years since her departure from Corrie Julie has remained an icon of the series and has taken part in several Weatherfield ventures, including in 2014 opening the Coronation Street studio tour which operated at the former Quay Street production centre of Granada Television and performing in the musical spin-off of the soap in Street of Dreams alongside Paul O’Grady. (Julie’s part was pre-recorded on screens).

She also has a waxwork in the Coronation Street section of the Madam Tussauds experience in Blackpool, where also in the 1980s she was part of the illuminations, with a cartoon version of Bet along with several other much loved Corrie stars forming part of the display.

In 2013, Bet was named the UK’s favourite TV landlady in a survey of 1,000 adults by the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra). She beat Peggy Mitchell, played by Barbara Windsor on EastEnders, with 22% of respondents voting in favour of her to Windsor’s 20%.

The actress has been married four times. Her first marriage at the age of 17 was a shotgun wedding when she was two months pregnant with her son Gary. Her second husband, Tony Rudman, left her on their wedding day and later came out as gay. Her third marriage in 1985 was after a long-distance relationship with American Richard Skrob. She married her fourth husband, Scott Brand, 26 years her junior, in 2007 after eleven years of dating. In 1979 she fought cervical cancer, later founding a charity concerning the illness.

Julie earlier this year announced in a statement that she had been diagnosed with dementia, however continues to remain as active as possible which includes supporting a couple of charities.

Julie as Bet, in 1995, as she leaves the show. ITV/Granada

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