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Elizabeth Theresa "Bet" Lynch (previously Gilroy) is a fictional character from the UK television ITV soap opera, Coronation Streetmarker. The character is no longer part of current storylines. Portrayed by actress Julie Goodyear the character first appeared onscreen during the episode airing on 23 May 1966. The character returned in 1970 until 1995 and re-appeared in 1999, 2002 and 2003. She is going to return for the 50th celebrations in 2010.

Creation

Background

Information about the character first surfaced to the public on 2 June 1966, when the Heywood Advertiser ran the story that Coronation Street was going through 'a little facelift' and the character of Bet Lynch was to be introduced. The publication that gave a little background to the character prior to appearing onscreen said: "Julie aged 22 has been working for a model sometime, but has also been on the files at Granada. When it was decided to inject more life into the series, she was offered the part as Bet, a typical Lancashire mill girl, who will be working at the new factory which is opening in 'the Street'."

The character then first appeared in 1966 (as presumed) as a factory worker who gave Lucille Hewitt a black eye. She quickly departed with the explanation she had moved away (actress Patricia Phoenix was also rumoured to have told Goodyear to return to the programme when she gained a little more acting experience). Bet returned in 1970, when she shared a flat with Irma Barlow, who put a down payment on it with the help of Len Fairclough and Ray Langton. Bet began work as a barmaid at the Rover's Return. The earlier incident with Lucille was not mentioned again and the two became good friends.

Casting

Actress Julie Goodyear was offered to play a bit part of Bet Lynch for a total of six weeks by Lucy Clayton, which she took without hesitation. Goodyear was convinced that she would be in it from there on and was shocked when they let her go at the end of her period of time filming. When actress Goodyear filmed a part for a drama series called 'Family At War', the director June Howson complimented her and said she was impressed. Howson later went on to produce Coronation Street and offered Goodyear a six month contract to reprise her role as Bet, which she took up the offer. She then became a permanent cast member.'

Development

Personality and identity

Goodyear described her character as "Busty, raunchy, voluptuous, a woman who knew how to flirt and manipulate, and give as good as she got. But she was also vulnerable. Unlucky in love, she could cry; rejected by those who got nearest to her, she could hurt" and noted that it was this mix that viewers got hooked on. She has been described as having a feisty personality and has learned through the hard knocks in her life how to fight her corner, a survivor, somewhat wary of men, she can get her teeth into most things then gives as good as she gets.

Appearance

The character has had some well known looks and styles throughout her time on the show, many have made her instantly reconisable. Goodyear spoke about how her appearance was shaped in the character's early days, stating: In the early days I never stopped researching the character of Bet on the streets of Salford with Tony Warren, and every time we went out, we would see a Bet at the market shopping, and either Tony or I would say 'Look at that silver mac/hairdo/earrings.' You could see Bet's everywhere and we took inspiration from each of them. Bet was based on women we saw in real life. As time went by people said 'too much', 'too over-the-top even for Bet', but Tony and I always knew it wasn't, and Bet's fan mail proved us right." She has also said that Bet was always dressed in a 'common as muck way'.

Goodyear has stated on different occasions that she would research the typical salary her character would be on for her barmaid job, as she wanted her character only to appear in outfits that she could realistically afford. This was to make her character credible and believable. This was where the leopard skin style of clothing came from because it was considered naughty, racy and very sexy in her characters early days and was deemed very affordable, staying true to her character..

As actress Julie Goodyear got older, Bet's physical appearance matured. No longer the one to wear miniskirts and wear her hair long, she adopted a somewhat infamous wardrobe in that many of her outfits were leopard skin print, which to this day is one of Bet's defining attributes. As Goodyear's hair turned white, she also started to bleach her hair and style it in a beehive fashion. In a survey published in the Manchester Evening News in April 2007, Bet's beehive was voted the worst haircut in soap history. In the early years of her beehive hair do Goodyear would have her real hair combed back and sprayed a large amount of hair lacquer onto it, though after a few years she received a false hairpiece to keep up the image onscreen.

Relationships

At first, Bet Lynch worked under Rovers Return Inn landlady Annie Walker, whom she clashed with regularly. Annie fashioned herself as refined and posh, and Bet liked to dress in provocative clothing, which Annie thought too tarty. Whenever Bet would have frustrations, either with Annie or with the world in general, she would turn to confidante and fellow barmaid Betty Turpin for support. The two women forged a friendship which would endure to this day.

A liberal woman in the mould of Elsie Tanner, Bet wanted a man to sweep her off her feet but always ended up sexually involved with bad prospects who were usually involved with other women (or married). She liked to flirt with men and receive attention from them, which was criticized by Annie Walker (and less frequently, Hilda Ogden and Ena Sharples). In fact, her son Martin, whom she had given up for adoption, came looking for her in 1974, but was repulsed by her overt sexual nature and left without informing her of his identity. He died in a car crash the following year at the age of 19.

After nearly two decades in search of the right man, Bet married Alec Gilroy in 1987, but even the wedding day was fraught with tension, as the two famously shared sarcastic banter while they were before the vicar. According to Julie, the drama unfolded off screen, as the night before the wedding, hundreds of fans camped outside the church and chanted 'don't do it, don't do it' to Julie before filming commenced.

Shortly afterwards, Bet became pregnant, but had a miscarriage. Bet and Alec ran the Rovers together, and were married until 1992, when he left Weatherfield to manage entertainment acts for a cruise liner. Bet was to go, but couldn't leave the Street and instead separated from Alec.

Storylines

Rovers Return

After Annie retired in 1983, the tenancy of the Rovers passed to her son Billy, who didn't really want the responsibility of running the pub and got in trouble with the police for holding lock-ins after hours. Eventually the brewery, Newton and Ridley, tired of this and made Billy an offer he couldn't refuse. After buying the Rovers, they advertised the post of manager. Bet applied, but didn't believe she had much of a chance as the brewery normally favoured married couples. It therefore came as a shock when she was offered the job, as the regulars had all signed a petition insisting that she was offered the position. In 1985 Bet was installed as Newton & Ridley's first unmarried landlady.

Departure

After the Rovers Return fire, she would continue on as landlady until 1995, when she could not generate the money required to buy the pub from Newton & Ridley, who were intent on selling. When she asked her friends for loans, they all declined, and she abruptly left the street, thinking nobody cared for her. In an ironic twist of fate, Alec returned to the Street in 1996 and helped run the Rovers with the new owners, Jack & Vera Duckworth.

Brief comebacks

Bet's subsequent history was later revealed in a spin-off story in 1999, when she was seen visiting her former step-granddaughter, Vicky, in Brighton, and succeeding in helping Vicky into a successful second marriage as well as coming to the rescue of her ailing business.

Bet returned to the Street in 2002 in a blaze of publicity and was expected to stay, but the actress changed her mind, apparently suffering from overwork, and her sudden departure had to be explained away in the script. She was seen again in 2003, in a special storyline set in Blackpool, when she helped Jim McDonald escape from prison. After a whirlwind romance, she was set to marry former brewery boss, Cecil Newton, but he collapsed and died before the ceremony.

She will return in 2010, to concide with the 50th anniversary celebrations.

Reception

Inside Soap magazine readers voted Bet as soaps 'Greatest ever Landlady.'

References

  1. " Hair-raising truth about Coronation Street", Manchester Evening News. Retrieved on 2007-10-30.
  2. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hv5CHhotVqY



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