|Coronation Street character|
|Portrayed by||Julie Goodyear|
|Duration||1966, 1970–1995, 2002–2003|
|First appearance||Episode 568
23 May 1966
|Last appearance||Episode 5636
30 November 2003
|Introduced by||Howard Baker (1966)
June Howson (1970)
Jane MacNaught (1999)
Kieran Roberts (2002, 2003)
|Book appearances||Coronation Street:
The Complete Saga
The War Years
|Coronation Street: After Hours (1999)|
|Occupation||Factory worker (1966)
Rovers Return Barmaid (1970–1995)
Rovers Return Manageress (1985–1987, 1995)
Rovers Return landlady (1987–1995)
Elizabeth Theresa "Bet" Lynch (also Gilroy) is a fictional character from the British ITV soap opera, Coronation Street. Portrayed by Julie Goodyear, the character first appears onscreen during the episode airing on Monday 23 May 1966. The character returned in 1970 and continued until 1995. She made brief comebacks in 2002 and 2003.
One of the serial's most popular characters ever, Bet first appeared back in May 1966, but did not become a regular until four and half years later in December 1970. In October 1995, after 25 years on-screen, Bet departed following Goodyear's decision to leave, however, she returned in June 2002 in what was intended to be a permanent return for the character. However, Goodyear quit after just two weeks in want was put down to the exhausting work schedule, although several tabloid newspapers reported that Goodyear had been sacked. The following year, Goodyear returned once more temporarily in a storyline that accommodated the return of Beverly Callard as Liz McDonald. She last appeared in November 2003. Bet likes to dress in a way she considers glamorous and has a fondness for leopard print clothes and a beehive hairstyle.
Bet Lynch is born to parents Patrick and Mary Lynch. Her father leaves when she is six months old, and Bet receives a strict Roman Catholic upbringing by her mother, but that doesn't stop her becoming Miss Weatherfield in 1955. When she is sixteen, she meets a man called Joe Mason at a party, who is twelve years older than her. After learning Bet is pregnant, Joe leaves and she gives birth to a baby boy called Martin but her mother insists that the Downes family adopt him.
Bet arrives in Coronation Street in 1966 when working at the PVC factory. She has an affair with her boss John Benjamin and gives Lucille Hewitt (Jennifer Moss) a black eye, because of her jealousy at Lucille's speed of welding. She leaves the area a few weeks later but returns to Coronation Street in 1970 when she bumps into Irma Barlow (Sandra Gough), remembering her from when she worked with her at the factory four years earlier. Later in the year, Bet becomes a junior barmaid in the Rovers Return Inn, appointed by Billy Walker (Ken Farrington). She has numerous relationships with many people, including well-known Street residents such as Len Fairclough (Peter Adamson) and Mike Baldwin (Johnny Briggs). In 1975, Bet receives news that her 19-year-old son Martin (who she gave up for adoption when he was a baby) had died in a car crash in Northern Ireland, where he had been serving as a soldier. She also finds out that he tracked her down, but was disgusted by her overt sexual nature and left without telling her who he was.
When Annie Walker (Doris Speed) retires in 1983 after 46 years as landlady of the Rovers Return, her son, Billy, takes over the license of the Rovers Return. He is involved in various dodgy dealings and screws up frequently. He is the landlord for less than a year; he gets in trouble with the brewery and the tenancy is purchased back by Newton & Ridley. The brewery decides to appoint a manager rather than sell the licence. Sarah Ridley appoints Bet manageress after receiving a petition from many of the Street’s residents who nominate her for the role. Bet is flabbergasted, but ecstatic. She moves out of the corner shop flat into the Rovers in January 1985. Bet is involved in a fire at the Rovers in 1986, but is saved by Kevin Webster (Michael Le Vell). The place is gutted but eventually refurbished and she moves back in a few weeks later. When the tenancy of the Rovers is being sold by the brewery in 1987, Bet can't raise the money to buy it. Club owner Alec Gilroy (Roy Barraclough) offers her a loan but she can't pay him back so flees to Spain for a few weeks. Alec manages to track her down to bring her back, and then proposes to her. They later get married. The marriage goes better than expected, and Bet falls pregnant in 1988 at the age of 48 (more 30 years after giving birth to Martin), only to lose the baby in an early miscarriage.
In January 1990, Alec meets his daughter, Sandra Arden (Kathy Jameson), for the first time in 20 years and he meets Sandra's husband Tim and daughter Vicky (Helen Warburton). On Sandra's birthday, Bet overhears Sandra telling Tim she wants nothing to do with Alec. Bet breaks the news to Alec, but he refuses to believe it until Sandra tells him. Bet visits Sandra and talks to her, persuading to give Alec a chance and after thinking, Sandra agrees. In 1991, days after the death of Alec's former wife, Sandra and Tim are killed in a car crash and Vicky (now played by Chloe Newsome) stays with Bet and Alec, who later become her legal guardians. Alec gets a job on a cruise and wants to sell the tenancy of the Rovers back to the brewer but Bet doesn't want to leave her pub so Alec goes alone. Bet becomes manageress of the Rovers and continues to run the pub for the next five years alone. When the brewery decide to sell the Rovers again, Bet can't come up with the large sum they demand. She tries asking some of her neighbours, especially close friend Rita Sullivan (Barbara Knox), and step-granddaughter Vicky to borrow some money; but both refuse. Vicky, however, does offer to buy Bet a house instead but Bet is upset and throws everyone out of the pub. In October 1995, she then leaves in the back of a taxi in her iconic leopard-skin outfit, not knowing where to go next.
Bet eventually heads to Tenerife where she spends a few happy years before returning to England. With a twist of fate, Alec returned to Weatherfield shortly after she left and has been working for the Duckworths as they took over the pub. Bet doesn't return for Betty Williams (Betty Driver)'s wedding to Billy Williams (Frank Mills) later that year. While in Tenerife, she meets a man called Bruce and they become lovers. Bruce owns a boat on which the two would spend many happy days together. When he dies suddenly, the boat is left to Bet and she returns to England in 1999, visiting Brighton to make amends with Vicky and sells the boat to invest in Vicky’s wine bar.
Bet reappears in Coronation Street in June 2002 for Betty's retirement party, which delights her. Bet reveals that she has made up with Vicky and has been running different pubs across the country for the last seven years, before finally settling in Brighton. Audrey Roberts (Sue Nicholls) asks Bet to stay with her for the next two weeks but when Rita visits, wanting to make amends for not loaning her the money to buy the Rovers, Bet and Rita argue as Bet tells Rita that all she does is run The Kabin, which she only has as a result of Len's death. Rita is offended and tells her that she should leave as she is now bitter but it is later revealed that Bet returned so she could testify against a former lover who stole money from her. Mike and Audrey go to the court to give Bet support but she loses the case and leaves Weatherfield again without saying goodbye.
In November 2003, Bet crosses paths with Liz McDonald (Beverley Callard) in Blackpool. Bet gets involved in Liz's problems as her husband Jim (Charles Lawson) has escaped from prison and is on the run. Bet is also due to marry former Brewery boss Cecil Newton (George Baker), but he dies of a heart attack. Bet returns to Brighton with Liz, where she continues to run a bar.
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 appears in 1966 (as presumed) as a factory worker who gives Lucille Hewitt (Jennifer Moss) a black eye. She quickly departs with the explanation she has 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 returns in 1970, when she shares a flat with Irma Barlow (Sandra Gough), who put a down payment on it with the help of Len Fairclough (Peter Adamson) and Ray Langton (Neville Buswell). Bet begins work as a barmaid at the Rover's Return. The earlier incident with Lucille is not mentioned again and the two became good friends.
Actress Julie Goodyear was offered the supporting role of Bet Lynch for a period of six weeks by Lucy Clayton, which she took without hesitation. Goodyear was convinced that she would continue in the role on a permanent basis and was shocked when they let her go at the end of her originally contracted period. When 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. She then became a permanent cast member.'
In March 2010 it was reported on Digital Spy that Bet was set to make a comeback in an attempt by the newly appointed Phil Collinson producer to try to restore the show to its 'golden days'. However this was denied the following day by Coronation Street bosses. A spokesperson said "At the moment there are no plans for Bet to return. The new producer hasn't even started yet, he's not made any decisions."
Following the death of actress Betty Driver in October 2011, there was speculation about Goodyear reprising her role for a one-off episode for the character Betty Williams' funeral, but the rumours ultimately proved to be groundless as Bet did not make an appearance.
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.
Bet was also known for her memorable catchphrases, some of which were of anger: in 1995, just before her departure, she roared at Rita "PALS? PALS? You don't know the meaning of the word!" However, Bet could also be philosophical: she once told Gail Platt: "Lovey, I saw more in my lifetime before I was twenty than you'll probably see in your entire life - and I didn't even leave my own back yard!".
The character has had some well-known looks and styles throughout her time on the show, many have made her instantly recognisable. 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 character's 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. During the 1970s she instructed makeup to style her hair in to her trade mark beehive hair style. She either wore her hair down during the 1970s or the beehive or various styles. A few years later she asked for a hair piece to be styled into a beehive. Then pinning it over her own hair. When she married Alec she decided to wear short curly wigs. She wouls do some scenes of her long hair. She continued to use short wigs until 1992 when she brought her much loved famous trade mark beehive back. 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 hairdo 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.
Inside Soap magazine readers voted Bet as soaps 'Greatest ever Landlady.' In Dorothy Catherine Anger's book "Other worlds: society seen through soap opera" she brands Bet a "tarty woman" who has the ability to "attract men like bees to honey".
- Just Julie. Macmillan/Pan Books. 2007. pp. 90, 104. ISBN 978-0-330-44972-4.
- Goodyear to return in 'Corrie' shake-up – Coronation Street News – Soaps. Digital Spy (14 March 2010). Retrieved on 2012-01-28.
- Corrie denies Goodyear return rumours – Coronation Street News – Soaps. Digital Spy (15 March 2010). Retrieved on 2012-01-28.
- 'Coronation Street' Julie Goodyear 'wants to return for Betty funeral' – Coronation Street News – Soaps. Digital Spy (25 October 2011). Retrieved on 2012-01-28.
- Just Julie. Macmillan/Pan Books. 2007. pp. 112, 113. ISBN 978-0-330-44972-4.
- "Hair-raising truth about Coronation Street", Manchester Evening News. Retrieved on 2007-10-30.
- Holy Soap (23 June 2009). "Bet Lynch is top pint puller". Five.tv. Retrieved 3 August 2009.
- Dorothy Catherine Anger (1999). Other worlds: society seen through soap opera. University of Toronto Press. p. 56. ISBN 1-55111-103-9. Retrieved 9 October 2010.