Vera Duckworth (also Burton) is a fictional character from the British ITV soap opera Coronation Street, portrayed by Liz Dawn. Vera is known for her long-standing marriage to Jack Duckworth (Bill Tarmey); they became one of the best-loved couples in television history. Vera was often shown in a comedic light.
|Coronation Street character|
|Portrayed by||Liz Dawn|
|Duration||1974, 1976–2008, 2010|
|First appearance||Episode 1418|
19 August 1974
|Last appearance||Episode 7464|
8 November 2010
|Introduced by||Leslie Duxbury (1974)|
Bill Podmore (1976)
Phil Collinson (2010)
|Coronation Street: Viva Las Vegas! (1997)|
Coronation Street: A Christmas Corrie (2012)
|Occupation||Mail order assistant|
She first appeared on 19 August 1974 and last appeared on 18 January 2008, where the character peacefully died in her sleep at the age of 70 from heart failure. She reappeared posthumously for a single appearance on the 8 November 2010 episode, in which her husband Jack died.
Vera first appeared working in the Mark Brittan mail order warehouse on Coronation Street, and formed a friendship with Ivy Tilsley (Lynne Perrie). Vera later moved into the street, much to the dismay of her new neighbours. Although it was originally stated that Vera was divorced, that was later overlooked when her husband Jack Duckworth (Bill Tarmey) was introduced. They argued frequently although she still made an effort with Jack, often using the comically spoken phrase "Don't you love me any more, Jack?". Despite their problems, Jack and Vera cared about each other.
The Duckworth marriage was always rocky due to their wayward son, Terry (Nigel Pivaro), and extramarital flings. Jack once had an affair with Bet Lynch (Julie Goodyear), and went on a dating programme in which he used a fake name, Vince St Clair. Bet joined the dating programme and was shocked to see Jack's video. She encouraged Vera to go, especially to see a video of a man named "Vince". Vera and the other girls then launched a plot for her to get even with Jack. Claiming she was a young widow, Vera arranged to meet "Vince" at The Rovers Return Inn. She was wearing a ginger wig as he approached her from behind, then slowly turned around to face Jack much to the amusement of the pub crowd who were in on the joke.
Vera got a job at Mike Baldwin's (Johnny Briggs) clothing factory – Baldwins Casuals. Vera worked at the factory as a machinist, working alongside many of the street's residents including Ivy, Elsie Tanner (Pat Phoenix), Ida Clough (Helene Palmer), Shirley Armitage (Lisa Lewis), Ernest Bishop (Stephen Hancock) and Emily Bishop (Eileen Derbyshire). After working at the factory for many years, Mike sold it in to developers, and it was demolished, leaving Vera out of a job until she had a career change when her lodger Curly Watts (Kevin Kennedy) got her a job at Bettabuys supermarket, working under boss Reg Holdsworth (Ken Morley).
When the Duckworths inherited some money after Jack's brother died, they bought The Rovers Return, with Vera becoming the landlady. However they later sold it to Alec Gilroy (Roy Barraclough). Vera and Jack moved into Eunice Gee's (Meg Johnson) B&B, and when Eunice moved to Spain to help her sister run a bar, she left Vera and Jack as managers of the B&B. When Eunice sold the business, Vera decided to slow down a bit and got a job in Roy's Rolls café, working alongside Roy Cropper (David Neilson), Hayley Cropper (Julie Hesmondhalgh), Frankie Baldwin (Debra Stephenson) and Becky Granger (Katherine Kelly).
Jack and Vera took in lodger Tyrone Dobbs (Alan Halsall) who became somewhat of a surrogate son to them. Vera became restricted to her house due to an injury to her ankle and was cared by Tyrone and Molly Compton (Vicky Binns). They bought her a baby monitor so Jack, Molly and Tyrone could talk to Vera while they were in the pub. Later, Jack and Vera's grandson Paul Clayton (Tom Hudson) arrived on the street but little did Vera know that Paul was scamming Jack and Vera out of money, stealing money from Jack and blaming it on Tyrone. Vera was disappointed in Tyrone but Molly was adamant that Tyrone hadn't stolen the money. Vera refused to believe this of Molly and could never believe that her own flesh and blood could steal from her. Vera decided that she and Jack were to move to their dream place of Blackpool but Paul was forced to confess to Jack that he had stolen the money for the house. Jack was appalled but had to keep it secret from Vera as he didn't want to hurt her and destroy her dreams. Vera still desperately wanted to move to Blackpool so Jack eventually told Vera that he spent a lot of the money they saved to help Paul buy his half of the restaurant, but added the excuse that he spent it before he knew they were going to Blackpool. Jack knew that if he told Vera the truth she would be heart broken and she was still greatly upset and went to bed to get over the shock.
One night, Vera complained about her shoes and Jack sat her down and pulled them off. Vera told Jack that she loved him and she had never loved any one else and pushed Jack to say the same. A little reluctantly, as always, he did and grabbed her slippers for her. He then said that he was going to go to The Rovers for a short while and although Vera tried to insist on him staying with her, he said he wouldn't be long and he had been with Vera all day and needed some time to relax. When he returned, Vera had died peacefully in her sleep. Jack remained calm and kept Vera warm. When the paramedics arrived, they explained that Vera had died from heart failure in her sleep but said that she hadn't experienced any pain.
Over two years later, shortly before dying Jack sees a vision of Vera and they both dance together.
Originally, actress Liz Dawn was only contracted for a couple of episodes, but producers saw potential in the character of Vera and brought her back two years later for another short stint, before finally making Vera a regular from December 1976. The character remained in the series until 2008, when due to Dawn wanting to leave the show because of ill health, the character was killed off.
Jack and VeraEdit
Vera's relationship with Jack Duckworth (Bill Tarmey) was always up and down, they had a rocky marriage and sometimes Jack appeared to show little care for her. Tarmey describes the first few decades in the following manner: "He would never knowingly hurt people and he loves Vera, although he doesn't always like her. He will defend her to the death, unless the chap slagging her off is bigger than he is! Jack is not a thief either!" In their "hey-day" they were dubbed as the modern day Stan (Bernard Youens) and Hilda Ogden (Jean Alexander). In their early days, Jack and Vera both had their fair share of dalliances. In 1982, whilst Vera was entertaining her own boyfriend, Jack had developed an attraction towards Bet Lynch (Julie Goodyear).
They believed the storyline was a turning point for the two and was written with wit. Dawn opines: "It was very cleverly written, because Vera knew that Jack had a girlfriend on the side but she didn't know the other woman was Bet. So she chose Bet as someone to confide in, and she really opened her heart. It was quite moving as well as funny." This led to classic showdown in the Rovers.
On 23 August 2010, it was confirmed that the actress would make a one-off appearance as the ghost of Vera Duckworth. The episode was broadcast on 8 November 2010. Husband Jack died from incurable cancer and the scene was a reunion for the two characters. Producer Phil Collinson explained why they decided to include her: "It's something I've heard a lot. People say, 'When my mother was dying she saw my father' [...] It's a story I've heard a few people say. We're storytellers at the end of the day. Yes it's Coronation Street and yes it reflects real life, but we're storytellers." Whilst Executive producer Kieran Roberts opined that he would be surprised if anyone thought it was the wrong decision.
On 23 July 2007, it was announced that Dawn had quit her role as Vera and would depart the following year. Speaking of her departure Dawn said: "It's been an amazing 34 years, I'd like to thank everyone for what has been the best time of my life." "We're indebted to her for all she has achieved during her years as Vera Duckworth," said Coronation Street executive producer Kieran Roberts. "We will always miss this wonderful lady and first rate actress and we are delighted she's agreed to return to the soap in the future." It was originally reported that producers were devising storylines for her character's departure, but will leave the door open for the guest appearances Liz has already agreed to. On 30 October 2007, it was reported that Vera would be killed off with her death being screened in the New Year. A spokeswoman said: "Three alternative endings have been written, but each will see Vera leaving husband Jack, family and friends devastated." Dawn admitted that she was pleased that Vera was killed off. "It is going to be very emotional filming Vera's death scenes but I do think it is the right decision for the character." Dawn said in an interview. Dawn's co-star Sally Whittaker who plays Sally Webster said Liz would be sadly missed by the cast and the soap would "never be the same again". Vera's death scenes were screened in episodes aired in January 2008.
The Guardian columnist Grace Dent spoke with sadness of the passing of Vera Duckworth: "Saddest news on Corrie this month was the passing of street legend Vera Duckworth, leaving her husband and soulmate Jack to wander the cobbles alone. The final era of Vera was actually quite painful to witness. Vera's storyline, spanning 33 years, had no real big bangs or final flourish. Instead, Vera sat quietly, trapped on her sofa, dreaming of a house move to glamorous Blackpool which we all knew would never come. She was still broke, still being conned by errant family members, still one of life's noisy malcontents, but not the formidable force she once was. Regardless, it still felt to me like she'd go on forever, until the undertakers carried her away over the cobbles in a box, while Jack watched from the doorstep in hang-dog faced bewilderment."
12.5 million viewers tuned in to see the departure of the long serving and popular character. Jim Shelley called Jack's death scene with the ghostly appearance of Vera, "one of the most moving scenes ever seen in soap".
- Love, Ryan (23 August 2010). "Jack Duckworth will speak to Vera's ghost". Digital Spy. Retrieved 23 August 2010.
- "Jack Duckworth 'will speak to Vera's ghost'". 23 August 2010.
- "Corrie explains Jack's death scene". The Belfast Telegraph. (Independent News & Media). 10 November 2010. Archived from the original on 20 October 2012. Retrieved 14 February 2011.
- "End of a Vera for 'Corrie' fans as Liz Dawn quits the Street".
- "The end of Vera Duckworth". 30 October 2007.
- "Grace Dent's World of Lather". The Guardian. 26 January 2008. Retrieved 27 September 2010.
- Vera's Corrie exit seen by 12.5m – BBC (Retrieved 2008-07-08)
- Shelley, Jim (9 November 2010). "Jack Duckworth's tear-jerking departure a fitting exit for a Coronation Street favourite". The Mirror. Trinity Mirror. Archived from the original on 11 November 2010. Retrieved 10 November 2010.