Liz Dawn

Sylvia Ann Ibbetson MBE (née Butterfield; 8 November 1939 – 25 September 2017), known professionally as Elizabeth Dawn or Liz Dawn, was an English actress, best known for her role as Vera Duckworth in the long-running British soap opera Coronation Street. First starting on the serial in 1974, she had a recurring role as a factory worker until her husband, Jack, (played by Bill Tarmey) first appeared in 1979. She played the character of Vera for 34 years. For her role in the soap, she received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2008 British Soap Awards. She was appointed an MBE in the 2000 Queens Birthday Honours.

Liz Dawn

Vera duckworth.jpg
Dawn as Vera Duckworth in 2007
Sylvia Butterfield

8 November 1939
Died25 September 2017(2017-09-25) (aged 77)
Years active1972–2015
Known forRole of Vera Duckworth in Coronation Street (1974, 1976–2008, 2010)
Spouse(s)Walter Bradley (1957–1959)
Donald Ibbetson (1965–2017; her death)


Dawn was born in Leeds, West Riding of Yorkshire, to parents Albert and Annie Butterfield. She grew up on the city's Halton Moor estate and began her performing career as a nightclub singer.[1] By the late 1960s, Dawn had ventured into acting, often taking small parts in television programmes as well as advertisements. One commercial for Cadbury's biscuits proved popular and helped her gain notice.[1] During the 1970s, she appeared in supporting roles in programmes including All Creatures Great and Small and Colin Welland's television play Leeds United (1974) and several other episodes of the Play for Today series in the mid-1970s.[2]

Dawn first appeared in Coronation Street in 1974.[1] She had a recurring role as a factory worker until her husband, Jack, (played by Bill Tarmey) first appeared in 1979.[3]

She was the subject of a This is Your Life programme in 1990, when she was surprised by Michael Aspel on the set of Coronation Street.[4]

Following a diagnosis of emphysema in March 2004, on 22 July 2007, Granada Television (makers of Coronation Street) announced that Vera Duckworth was to be written out, at Dawn's request, before Christmas, because of further complications with the condition.[5]

Dawn's final appearance came in the episode screened on 18 January 2008, when Vera Duckworth died in her sleep, thus ending 34 years of the character's appearances in the series.[2] Bill Tarmey, who played on screen husband Jack Duckworth, continued to be a part of the cast of Coronation Street and Dawn stated that the hardest thing about leaving Corrie was saying good-bye to Tarmey, with whom she was best friends.[2] On 8 November 2010, she made a brief one-off return to the soap for the final scenes of her on-screen husband, Jack, who died in the same chair as Vera. Dawn appeared as Vera's spirit, who had come to take Jack on his final journey and the pair enjoyed one final dance together.[6]

She came out of retirement in December 2015 to make a one-off guest appearance in the soap Emmerdale as the character Mrs Winterbottom.[7]

Dawn won the Special Achievement Award at the 2008 British Soap Awards for her decades-long portrayal of her iconic character.[8]

Dawn was appointed an MBE in the 2000 Queens Birthday Honours, for services to the Manchester Children's Hospital, the Genesis Appeal and the Liz Dawn Breast Cancer Appeal, St. James's Hospital, Leeds.[9]

Personal life and deathEdit

At the age of 18, Dawn married Walter Bradley in Leeds in 1957 and the couple had a son, Graham, but the marriage collapsed when she turned 21. She married electrician Donald Ibbetson in 1965, with whom she had three daughters, Dawn, Ann and Julie.[10] At the time of her death, she had six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.[11]

In March 2004,[12] Dawn was diagnosed with emphysema (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – COPD).[13] She attributed the illness to her own smoking habit and performing in smoke-filled clubs.[10] In May 2009, Dawn agreed to become the "Celebrity Ambassador" of the British Lung Foundation (BLF). She also worked to raise awareness of COPD. In June 2009 she spearheaded the campaign "Breathe Easy Week", to raise awareness of the work of the BLF.[8]

In 2013 she revealed her health had deteriorated further after she had a heart attack, and only a third of her lungs were still working.[14] In September 2017 Dawn was admitted to hospital in Manchester with severe breathing problems. Dawn, who had stopped smoking in 2002, had previously said her emphysema had taken such a toll on her that she had nearly collapsed while at Buckingham Palace collecting her MBE in 2000.[15]

Dawn died on 25 September 2017, at her home in Whitefield, Greater Manchester, after a long battle with COPD. Tributes came from many Coronation Street actors, celebrity fans, and the Labour MP Tracy Brabin, a former Coronation Street actress, who told BBC News, "She was a legend and an icon, an incredible person to work with. Deeply authentic, a natural comedian and a heart as big as Manchester."[8][16] Her funeral took place at Salford Cathedral on 6 October 2017.[17]


Year Title Role Notes
1972, 1974 Coronation Street Rovers Customer / Onlooker Uncredited; 3 episodes
1972–1975 Crown Court Female Officer / Warder / Bedelia Conroy 20 episodes
1973–1975 Play for Today Striker Episode "Leeds United"
1973 Shabby Tiger Hotel Lady Uncredited
1974 Village Hall Other Voter
Sam Sylvia Brightside
1974, 1976–2008, 2010 Coronation Street Vera Duckworth Regular role; 2,277 episodes
Won: 2001 British Soap Award for Best On-Screen Couple (shared with Bill Tarmey);
2008 British Soap Award Lifetime Achievement

Nominated: 2008 Television and Radio Industries Club Award for TV Soap Personality;
1999 British Soap Award for Best On-Screen Partnership (shared with Bill Tarmey)

1975–1976 The Wheeltappers and Shunters Social Club Waitress 7 episodes
1975 Sunset Across the Bay Canteen Lady / Striker / Mrs. Warboys / Enid
1975 Greenhill Pals May TV film
1976 Open All Hours Woman Outside Shop Uncredited
1978 Z-Cars Rose
Selwyn Mavis
1979 All Day on the Sands Derek's mother TV film
1990 ITV Telethon Vera Duckworth Charity telethon
1997 Coronation Street: Viva Las Vegas! Direct-to-video Coronation Street spin off
2001 Lily Savage's Blankety Blank Herself[18]
2012 Coronation Street: A Christmas Corrie Vera Duckworth
2015 Emmerdale Mrs Winterbottom Guest role; 2 episodes


  1. ^ a b c Tarmey, Bill (14 October 2010). Jack Duckworth and Me: My Life on the Street and Other Adventures. Simon and Schuster. pp. 64–. ISBN 978-0-85720-241-3.
  2. ^ a b c "Dawn struggles to leave Corrie co-star". Digital Spy. 7 August 2007. Retrieved 26 September 2017.
  3. ^ Kay, Graeme (1991). Life in the Street. Boxtree Limited. p. 58. ISBN 1-85283-161-8.
  4. ^ "Elizabeth Dawn". Retrieved 17 December 2019.
  5. ^ "'I thought I was dying': Coronation Street star Liz Dawn on lung disease that forced her to quit show". Mirror. 10 July 2012. Retrieved 26 September 2017.
  6. ^ "The Press Association, 10 November 2010: Marsh: I shed tear over Jack scenes". Retrieved 26 September 2017.[dead link]
  7. ^ Brown, David (11 November 2015). "Coronation Street icon Liz Dawn joins Emmerdale at Christmas". Radio Times. Retrieved 26 November 2015.
  8. ^ a b c "Coronation Street star Liz Dawn dies". BBC News. Retrieved 26 September 2017.
  9. ^ "Birthday Honours List". The London Gazette (55879). 19 June 2000. Retrieved 28 September 2017.
  10. ^ a b "Liz Dawn: A life of drama and laughter". BBC News. 26 September 2017. Retrieved 26 September 2017.
  11. ^ Boyle, Danny (26 September 2017). "Liz Dawn, Coronation Street 'legend' who played Vera Duckworth, dies at 77". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 26 September 2017.
  12. ^ "Corrie's Vera Duckworth 'quits' show". Retrieved 26 September 2017.
  13. ^ "Soap actress thanks lung centre". BBC News. Retrieved 26 September 2017.
  14. ^ Ellis-Petersen, Hannah (26 September 2017). "Liz Dawn, Coronation Street's Vera Duckworth, dies aged 77". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 September 2017.
  15. ^ "Liz Dawn out of hospital after suffering health scare". Metro. 17 September 2017. Retrieved 26 September 2017.
  16. ^ Glendinning, Amy (29 May 2013). "Liz Dawn: I'm lucky to be alive". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 26 September 2017.
  17. ^ "Liz Dawn: Coronation Street stars bid farewell at Salford Cathedral funeral". BBC. Retrieved 7 October 2017.
  18. ^ "Series 1, Episode 2". Lily Savage's Blankety Blank. 14 January 2001. ITV1. Repeated 22 August 2016 on Challenge. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)

External linksEdit