She was the Street siren with an eye for the blokes and a knack for raising the hackles of the morally superior Ena Sharples. And right up to actress Pat Phoenix’s last appearance in 1984, our Elsie was sending the men potty. In her final weeks in Weatherfield, old flame Bill Gregory returned to offer her the chance to be his wife and run a wine bar in Portugal, and after much smoking and agonising, she joined him. “How long are you away?” asked the taxi driver. “Ah, now there’s a question,” came Elsie’s reply.
But it turned out that this would be the last we’d ever see of the blowsy heroine as two years later Pat Phoenix died from cancer. Viewers were left wondering forevermore whether Elsie had made a success of it on the Iberian Peninsula or slunk back to Manchester with the tail between her legs. Well now, thanks to the reappearance of son Dennis Tanner in next week’s episodes, we have the answers.
Following a chance encounter with his one-time fancy-piece Rita Sullivan, Dennis explains what became of his mother. It turns out that she too has died, but only in the last six or seven years, and that she stuck it out with Bill. “My god, did they live the high life,” Dennis explains. “He had this red sports car that me mam was mad over. One night they were belting down this cliff road and they ran into this storm apparently. They found them in the car the next morning on the rocks below. Rumour has it they were still holding hands. What a way to go, eh? She were 81, dying in the arms of her fella in the fanciest sports car you ever saw.”
So there we have it. Elsie Tanner, living life in the fast lane right up to her final seconds and a Coronation Street mystery finally solved. Now if only we could discover how Annie Walker fared in Derby following her retirement or if Ena finally mellowed during her years in St Anne’s…