Liz Dawn MBE – the actress who found fame on Coronation Street playing gobby Vera Duckworth – has died at the age of 77.
As factory machinist Vera, Dawn was half of one of the soap’s most beloved double acts, her partnership with screen husband Bill Tarmey (Jack) adored by millions of Corrie fans.
Dawn’s family confirmed the news in a statement, saying, “We are devastated and heartbroken at the passing of our much-loved wife, mother, sister, grandmother and great grandmother, the incredible Liz Dawn.
“Liz died peacefully last night at home with her loving family around her,” the statement continued. “She has been the love, light and inspiration in our lives and we are bereft at her passing.”
The actress’s association with Coronation Street dated back to 1974, but it wasn’t until Tarmey’s introduction in 1979 that the work-shy Duckworths truly established themselves in Weatherfield.
With son Terry in tow, Jack and Vera eventually became the true successors to the Ogdens as the rough-and-ready family on whom everyone else could look down.
Over three decades, the family’s fortunes rose and fell, the pair at one point becoming landlord and landlady of the Rovers Return.
But it was at stone-clad Number 9 where the Duckies were most at home – Vera henpecking Jack or pressuring him to fulfil his obligations in the bedroom, he preferring to spend time with his beloved pigeons or supping ale in the pub.
Coronation Street’s executive producer Kieran Roberts said, “Liz Dawn was a true Coronation Street legend, a brilliant actor and a wonderful person. Everyone lucky enough to have worked with Liz during her thirty-four years playing Corrie icon Vera Duckworth will remember her with huge affection.”
In 2004, actress Dawn (born Sylvia Butterfield in Leeds) was diagnosed with emphysema and it was continuing ill health that led to Granada announcing in 2007 that she was to be written out at her own request.
Dawn’s final scenes were shown in January 2008 when Vera died in her sleep, though she did make a one-off return two years later to mark Tarmey’s exit.
Having spent her early career as a nightclub singer before taking guest roles in the likes of Crown Court and Z Cars, Dawn was always appreciative of her years on Coronation Street, saying in 2010:
“It’s been an amazing life. And it was marvellous to get a partner like Bill. Jack and Vera would fight all the time, but we never had a row. He used to tell me to hit him and that he’d duck. But he never did. I once had to hit him with a frozen fish!
“So, working with Bill was amazing. And the fans have always been so lovely. They’ll come up to you sand say, ‘thanks for all the years of entertainment’. They’re really kind.”
Coronation Street paid tribute to their “beloved Liz Dawn” in a statement: “We extend our heartfelt condolences and sympathy at this very sad time to Liz’s devoted husband Don, her loving children Graham, Dawn, Ann and Julie, their families and her six grandchildren and three great grandchildren.
“We have been blessed to have Liz in our lives, as she was such a kind, considerate and caring friend and colleague. As Coronation Street’s Vera Duckworth for 34 years, Liz brought so much joy and happiness to so many. She was a wonderful actress who will forever be a true Coronation Street legend.”