Friday, 26 February 2016

Book Review: Jack Duckworth And Me by Bill Tarmey

Actor Bill Tarmey is best known as Jack Duckworth, one of the UK's best-loved soap characters. Bill grew up in post-war Manchester, began a career in the building trade, but a love of singing drew him to the entertainment business. By the late 1960s he was established on the northern Working Men's Club circuit and also doing part-time work as a TV 'extra'. He was spotted as one of the crowd in the Rover's Return pub on the set of Coronation Street and soon offered the role of Jack to on-screen wife Vera, which he has played for 31 years. He retires from the show in December 2010.

My Review:
When you hear the cast who worked with talk about Bill Tarmey, they always talk fondly of what a lovely man he was, and that is exactly what you think when you read this book. He does sound like an honest, decent and caring human being, who was totally devoted to first love and wife Ali.

The book covers his early life, trying to make ends meet to provide the money to marry Ali, who he felt was out of his league in every way. He gets involved in singing in clubs and makes a living from that and work as an extra on TV. It was during these appearances as an extra on Coronation Street-remember the man who once dropped the bar hatch on Ernie Bishop's hand?-that he was spotted and brought in as the husband of Vera Duckworth.

Bill goes into a lot of detail about his years on Corrie, including a year by year update about what was happening to the Duckworths. It was actually very sad to read about the filming of his and Vera's on screen deaths and the effects that it had on everyone involved. He talks about his protests to Brian Park for the spate of sackings he brought in. He was angry that Kevin Kennedy was sacked because the writers couldn't think up a story for his character Curly, which he thought was totally crazy when these people are paid to think up stories.

His on set stories are funny. He first appeared as Jack at Gail and Brian Tilsley's wedding, and Liz Dawn who plays Vera stood too close to a heater between takes and set her dress on fire. His first filming with Liz ends with them on the ground and him slapping her bum to get the flames out! That would've been pretty funny to watch! It's no surprise that it started one of the funniest partnerships ever seen on Corrie.

Bill went through some very scary health scares with his heart, on one occasion being saved by a friend getting him medical help. Sadly that ill health finally caused the death of the actor. He was a great character and a lovely man from all accounts which is a good legacy to have.
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