Bill Tarmey

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Bill Tarmey
Jack duckworth.jpg
Tarmey as Jack Duckworth in 2007
William Piddington

(1941-04-04)4 April 1941
Died9 November 2012(2012-11-09) (aged 71)
OccupationActor, singer
Years active1968–2010
Notable work
Coronation Street (1979, 1981, 1983–2010)
Ali Tarmey
(m. 1962; his death 2012)

Bill Tarmey (born William Piddington; formerly William Cleworth-Piddington; 4 April 1941 – 9 November 2012)[1] was an English actor, singer and author, best known for playing Jack Duckworth in the soap opera Coronation Street. First appearing in the role in November 1979, he played it continually from 1983 to 2010.

Early life and education[edit]

Tarmey was born in Ardwick, Manchester, Lancashire. Shortly after his birth, he moved with his family to live in Bradford, Manchester, where he was also educated. Following the death of his father William in 1944[2] whilst driving an ambulance at the Battle of Arnhem during the Second World War,[3] his mother Lilian remarried, to Robert Cleworth.[4] Tarmey attended the Bradford Memorial School and the Queens Street School (which became the Philips Park Secondary Modern School).[5] On leaving school, he was apprenticed to his stepfather, who was an asphalt spreader by trade. He also worked in the construction industry for a number of years.


In 1968, Tarmey gave up his job in the building industry to work as a nightclub singer and entertainer. In order to supplement his income, he took on work as an extra on shows such as Coronation Street, amongst others. Despite suffering a serious heart attack in 1976 and a stroke in 1977, he was eventually offered the role of Jack Duckworth, a character who would go on to become an institution in British soap operas. He underwent quintuple bypass surgery in 1987, and had a pacemaker fitted after suffering a second heart attack in 2002, which was used as a storyline in Coronation Street to explain his absence. He also developed sleep apnoea, disrupting his breathing while asleep.

Tarmey was an extra in the Granada Television adaptation of King Lear (1983) which starred Laurence Olivier in the title role.[6] He was an accomplished singer and released several albums. Three of them A Gift of Love (1993), Time for Love (1994) and After Hours (1996) appeared in the UK Albums Chart.[7]

He was the subject of This Is Your Life in 1992 when he was surprised by Michael Aspel on the set of Coronation Street. He has also appeared on Lily Savage's Blankety Blank.[8][9]

Departure from Coronation Street[edit]

In April 2006, when he turned 65, Tarmey announced he was thinking of retiring, which prompted letters of protest from fans. In 2009, he wanted to leave his role in the long-running television series, Coronation Street, due to his multiple health problems, which included severe breathing problems. The show's producers, however, persuaded him to stay until the 50th anniversary, in December of the following year. News of his departure was announced on 9 April 2010. Commenting, he said, "I've had the most amazing 30 years playing Jack. Because of him I've made fantastic friends and travelled all over the world. I'll be sorry to say goodbye".[10] Tarmey's departure was pushed forward to the 8 November 2010 episode because of his declining health; in this episode Jack died asleep in his chair in a manner similar to the death of Vera (although Jack had a storyline illness). Tarmey was the second longest serving male actor in the show.[citation needed]

In a March 2011 interview with Nigel Pivaro Tarmey revealed he also had to leave the series because his son Carl had been diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2009.[11]


Tarmey's autobiography, Jack Duckworth and Me: My Life on the Street and Other Adventures, was published in 2010.[5][12]

Personal life[edit]

In 1955, he met his future wife Ali in the local youth club. The couple married in 1962, and had two children: Carl (1966–2019[13]) and Sara (born 1970). Tarmey suffered from poor health for many years, having a severe heart attack at the age of 35 and also a stroke when he was 36. He had heart bypass surgery twice, once in 1987 and again (following another heart attack) in 2002.[14] He and his wife Ali lived in Ashton-under-Lyne. He also suffered from sleep apnoea due to breathing problems.[15] Despite his multiple health problems, Tarmey refused to quit smoking.[2] In May 2011 Tarmey revealed that he needed to undergo further heart surgery.[16]


A Coronation Street spokesman confirmed that Tarmey died in Tenerife from a heart attack[17] on the morning of 9 November 2012 at the age of 71.[18][19][20][21]


  1. ^ "'Coronation Street' Jack Duckworth actor Bill Tarmey dies, aged 71". Digital Spy. 9 November 2012. Retrieved 9 November 2012.
  2. ^ a b Dennis Barker (9 November 2012). "Bill Tarmey obituary". the Guardian.
  3. ^ "Casualty details: PIDDINGTON, WILLIAM". CWGC.
  4. ^ "Bill Tarmey". 9 November 2012.
  5. ^ a b Tarmey, Bill (2010). Jack Duckworth and Me: My Life on the Street and Other Adventures. Simon & Schuster Ltd. ISBN 978-0-85720-236-9.
  6. ^ Lawson, Mark (8 November 2010). "Jack Duckworth waltzes out of Coronation Street". The Guardian. London.
  7. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 549. ISBN 978-1-904994-10-7.
  8. ^ "ITV Series 1, Episode 3". Lily Savage's Blankety Blank. 21 January 2001. ITV. Repeated 23 August 2016 on Challenge TV.
  9. ^ Lily Savage's Blankety Blank. 20 May 2001. ITV.
  10. ^ "Jack Duckworth leaving Coronation Street". 9 April 2010. Archived from the original on 12 April 2010. Retrieved 9 April 2010.
  11. ^ Pivaro, Nigel (25 March 2011). "Bill Tarmey: The shocking truth about why I really left Coronation Street". Retrieved 27 August 2011.
  12. ^ "Coronation Street's Bill Tarmey to release autobiography". 3 July 2010. Retrieved 27 August 2011.
  13. ^ "Coronation Street legend Bill Tarmey's son Carl Piddington dies after 10-year brain tumour fight". MSN. 27 March 2019. Retrieved 27 March 2019.
  14. ^ "Coronation Street great Bill Tarmey dies". RTÉ Ten. 9 November 2012. Retrieved 9 November 2012.
  15. ^ "Corrie's Bill Tarmey dies aged 71". BBC News. 9 November 2012.
  16. ^ "Corrie star Tarmey to undergo heart surgery". RTE. 8 May 2011.
  17. ^ Nigel Pivaro (28 July 2013). "Coronation Street: Bill Tarmey's son claims his dad's ghost visited him to help with fight against cancer - Mirror Online". mirror.
  18. ^ "Bill Tarmey, Coronation Street star, dies aged 71". BBC News. 9 November 2012. Retrieved 9 November 2012.
  19. ^ "Bill Tarmey Passes Away in Tenerife".
  20. ^ "Video and his career in pictures as former Coronation Street star Bill Tarmey, who played Jack Duckworth, has died". Norwich Evening News. 9 November 2012. Retrieved 9 November 2012.
  21. ^ Obituaries in the Performing Arts

External links[edit]