|Doris Speed MBE|
3 February 1899
Manchester, Lancashire, England
|Died||16 November 1994
Doris Speed, MBE (3 February 1899 – 16 November 1994) was an English actress, best known for her role as snooty Rovers Return landlady Annie Walker on Coronation Street, a role she played from 1960 to 1983.
Early life and career
As a child she toured with her musical and comedy artist parents George Speed and Ada Worsley, moving to different schools almost every week. Her debut came to her at the age of three years old, as she toddled onstage in a nightdress to sing a song about a golliwog. Two years later, she made her acting debut as the velvet-suited infant Prince of Rome in a Victorian melodrama, called The Royal Divorce. She then appeared in repertory theatres and in numerous radio plays. She left acting to work for, amongst others, the Guinness brewery in Manchester, as a clerk. Returning to acting relatively late in life, she had a small role in the 1960 Stanley Baker vehicle Hell Is a City which was set in Manchester.
She also worked on a 1950s police television series Shadow Squad. In 1960, close friend and writer of Shadow Squad Tony Warren created the soap opera Coronation Street, purportedly writing the character of Annie Walker specifically for her.
She appeared in 1,746 episodes and was one of only a handful of original cast members still appearing in the 1980s. In 1983, the Daily Mirror published a story claiming Speed was older than she said she was (though her birth certificate was not printed alongside the story, as is often claimed). She publicly fainted when she learned the news, while at work on Coronation Street, and was advised to go home to rest. Weeks later, burglars robbed her house while she was asleep. Speed never returned to the programme.
The stress surrounding the incidents caused her to have a minor breakdown, and she left the show to live the rest of her days in a nursing home, although she made a guest appearance in the 30th anniversary special programme, Happy Birthday Coronation Street in 1990, where she was given a standing ovation. Her final television appearance was an interview given with actor Ken Farrington (her on-screen son) in 1993. She died in 1994, at the age of 95.
Doris Speed never married: she lived with her mother Ada, a former music hall performer, until the latter's death in 1973. Unlike the stereotypically-Tory Annie Walker, Speed was a lifelong socialist.
She was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) on 29 November 1977, for her impact on British society in the role of Annie.
She is commemorated by two plaques in her native Manchester: one outside Granada Studios, where she filmed most of her work as Annie Walker, and another at 13 Sibson Road, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, her home for many years.
- "The REAL 1970s: "Yes, Mrs Walker!" The Rovers Return, 1970-1979". Real70s.blogspot.com. 2006-11-23. Retrieved 2012-08-19.
- "Historical plaques about Doris Speed". openplaques.org. Retrieved 2013-08-07.