Street Life
A Dancer's Life

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Betty Driver


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Pat Phoenix


William Tarmey

Throughout its history This Is Your Life regularly topped the television ratings. The only programme to consistently rival it to the coveted number one position was Britain’s longest running soap opera - Coronation Street.


It seemed appropriate then, that the Big Red Book was delivered to the cobbled streets of Weatherfield on a regular basis. So, from Elsie Tanner to Eddie Yates, here is a look at the household names behind the well loved characters of television’s top rated soap, who have received the Big Red Book treatment...

Pat Phoenix Pat Phoenix Pat PHOENIX
Elsie Tanner/Howard 15 November 1972
Pat was the very first Coronation Street resident to become a subject of This Is Your Life - surprised on the set of the soap - outside number 11 - when Eamonn swapped places with her screen (and later real-life) husband Alan Browning, while recording a scene which also included Peter Adamson.
Among Pat's guests is comedian Sandy Powell.
Jack Howarth Jack Howarth Jack HOWARTH
Albert Tatlock 20 November 1974
Jack - who joined the soap in 1960 as an original cast member - was a reluctant subject when Eamonn surprised him on the set of the Rovers Return - his response being: “Yes, well I’m going home!”
Among those greeting Jack at Thames Television's Euston Road Studios are actors Thora Hird and Arthur Lowe and television producer Johnnie Hamp.
Betty Driver Betty Driver Betty DRIVER
Betty Turpin/Williams 11 February 1976
Betty was surprised as she arrived at London's Euston Station where Eamonn had disguised himself as a newspaper vendor - “I didn’t recognise you with that awful hat on!”
Among those paying tribute to Betty - who had been a regular with the soap since 1969 - are actors Beryl Reid and Tony Britton.
Julie Goodyear Julie Goodyear Julie GOODYEAR
Bet Lynch/Gilroy 22 October 1980
Julie was also surprised at Euston Station when Eamonn - this time dressed as a waiter - greeted her with the help of her soap colleagues William Roache and Jack Howarth, and the Ilkeston Brass Band.
Violet Carson, who plays battleaxe Ena Sharples in the soap, was too ill to travel to London for the show, but sent Julie a telephone message.
Peter Adamson Peter Adamson Peter ADAMSON
Len Fairclough 23 December 1981
Eamonn disguised himself as Santa Claus and enlisted the help of Norman Vaughan, Windsor Davies and Melvyn Hayes in order to surprise Peter in London’s Leicester Square.
Peter - who was about to appear in pantomime with the aforementioned - was greeted by, among others, actor Leonard Rossiter.
Johnny Briggs Johnny Briggs Johnny BRIGGS
Mike Baldwin 26 January 1983

Johnny was surprised by Eamonn - with the help of Pat Phoenix - in yet another central London location - this time the Punch & Judy pub in Covent Garden.
Johnny - who had played factory owner Mike Baldwin since 1976 - was reunited with his old drama teacher, Ruth Conti, and received recorded tributes from actors Samantha Eggar and Dirk Bogarde.

William Roache William Roache William ROACHE
Ken Barlow 16 October 1985
Eamonn dressed as an Arab sheik and was accompanied by a camel - for no obvious reason - in order to surprise Bill during a cast photo shoot to celebrate the soap's 25th anniversary.
Among the guests are comedian Norman Wisdom, broadcaster Arthur Marshall and impressionist Mike Yarwood.
Bill Waddington Bill Waddington Bill WADDINGTON
Percy Sugden 15 October 1986
Eamonn surprised the former variety comedian at Euston Station - with the help of long-time friend Joe Loss and his Orchestra.
Bill’s guests include a fellow comedian who worked with him at Manchester’s Hulme Hippodrome in the fifties - Jill Summers - the Street’s future Phyllis Pearce.
Roy Barraclough Roy Barraclough Roy BARRACLOUGH
Alec Gilroy 21 October 1987
Roy was summoned back from holiday so Eamonn - disguised as a AA patrolman could surprise him from under the bonnet of Julie Goodyear’s supposedly broken down Rolls Royce somewhere outside Manchester. On hearing the words ‘This Is Your Life’, Roy - who was initially furious at cutting short his holiday - retorted: “Oh no it isn’t”.
Liz Dawn Liz Dawn Liz DAWN
Vera Duckworth 10 January 1990
Michael’s first visit to Coronation Street was in order to surprise Liz - which he did during the recording of a scene on the set of the Rovers Return.
Among those paying tribute to Liz - who first appeared in the soap in 1974 - are comedians Bernard Manning and Larry Grayson, who the actress had worked with in her earlier career as a nightclub singer.
Thelma Barlow Thelma Barlow Thelma BARLOW
Mavis Riley/Wilton 13 November 1991
Michael interrupted the filming of another scene - this time in the street's newsagent, The Kabin - to surprise Thelma - a regular with the soap since 1973.
Thelma’s tribute includes a reunion with two former Coronation Street actresses: Madge Hindle and Anne Reid, while actor Richard Briers pays tribute via a recorded message.
Bill Tarmey Bill Tarmey William TARMEY
Jack Duckworth 4 November 1992
Michael was back in the Rovers Return to surprise Bill, who had played the pub's cellarman regularly since 1983.
Among the guests are impressionist Faith Brown and Bill’s footballing hero Gordon Banks. The show concludes with Bill singing his version of the song 'Wind Beneath My Wings'.
Jill Summers Jill Summers Jill SUMMERS
Phyllis Pearce 2 February 1994
Jill was enjoying a quiet afternoon tea in Manchester’s Midland Hotel when she was surprised by Michael and his big red book.
Jill’s background in variety and comedy was celebrated with a guest list that includes actors John Inman and Beryl Reid and comedians Ken Dodd and Larry Grayson.
Tony Warren Tony Warren Tony WARREN MBE
Creator 11 October 1995
The man who started it all - the creator of Coronation Street - was surprised by Michael on the Rovers Return set - during a cast photo shoot to celebrate 35 years of the soap. Tony’s tribute - recorded at Manchester's Granada Studios - home of the Street, includes a reunion with two former Street stars: Julie Goodyear and Jean Alexander.
Sue Nicholls Sue Nicholls Sue NICHOLLS
Audrey Roberts 29 November 1996
Michael caught up with Sue - a regular cast member since 1985 - outside the Street’s hair salon.
Her real life husband - and former Street actor - Mark Eden is naturally a guest, while other guests include actors Donald Sinden and Elizabeth Spriggs, and - in a rare appearance - Dame Hilda Bracket’s creator, Patrick Fyffe.
Bryan Mosley Bryan Mosley Bryan MOSLEY
Alf Roberts 3 November 1997
Bryan - who has played the street's grocer since becoming a regular member of the cast in 1971 - was surprised by Michael during the recording of a scene at number 8 Coronation Street - the home of the Platts.
Bryan’s show includes tributes from actor Paul Shane, and an actress who made regular appearances on the Street over the years - Kathy Staff.
Anne Kirkbride Anne Kirkbride Anne KIRKBRIDE
Deidre Rashid 27 December 1998
For a specially extended Christmas broadcast, Michael was back in the Rovers Return to surprise Anne - who has played Deidre since 1972.
A popular, emotional edition sees Anne greeted by, among others, Matthew Kelly, and reunited with her first Street husband Ray Langton, when actor Neville Buswell flew in from the USA to pay his tribute.
Denise Welch Denise Welch Denise WELCH
Natalie Barnes 15 November 1999
Denise - who appeared in the soap between 1997 and 2000, during which time her character became landlady of the Rovers Return - was surprised by Michael at Manchester’s Piccadilly Station.
Among the guests are actors Rula Lenska and Rodney Bewes and former Street colleagues Phil Middlemiss and Lee Warburton.
Sue Jenkins Sue Jenkins Sue JENKINS
Gloria Todd 7 February 2001
In the first of two consecutive editions in which This Is Your Life pay tribute to former Street actors, Sue - who played barmaid Gloria for three years from 1985 - was surprised by Michael on the set of her current soap - Brookside. Guests from the Street include real husband and wife Mark Eden and Sue Nicholls, and television husband and wife Bill Tarmey and Liz Dawn.
Geoffrey Hughes Geoffrey Hughes Geoffrey HUGHES
Eddie Yates 14 February 2001
Geoff - who played lovable binman Eddie Yates from 1974 to 1983 - was surprised by Michael while filming on the set of the ITV drama series, Heartbeat.
Geoff’s guests included colleagues from many of his post Coronation Street achievements, but his time on the soap was recalled in a filmed tribute from Julie Goodyear.