Elizabeth Theresa "Bet" Lynch (previously Gilroy) is a former barmaid and landlady of the Rovers Return Inn.
Bet struck out on her own at a young age, eschewing her Catholic upbringing. At sixteen she gave birth to a son, Martin, but the father, Joe Mason, fled after hearing she was pregnant and she was forced to give Martin up for adoption. Years of working in factories followed, including a brief period at the PVC Factory in Coronation Street in 1966.
Bet felt most at home behind a bar. Her 25 years at the Rovers began in 1970 when she was recruited as a barmaid by Billy Walker. The landlady, Annie Walker, was disdainful of "tarty" Bet but had to concede that she drew in the punters and they eventually developed an understanding. In 1985, Bet became the pub's manager, succeeding the Walkers.
In 1987, Bet was finally married to theatrical agent Alec Gilroy, which was partly a business arrangement to allow Bet to remain landlady with Alec buying the Rovers tenancy and becoming its licensee. They were fond of each other, but when Alec seized an opportunity to revive his career as entertainments manager aboard the cruise ships, Bet refused to go with him and the couple eventually divorced.
Bet stayed on at the Rovers until 1995 when Newton & Ridley sold the pub and Bet lost her job and home. She ended up living in Brighton with Alec's granddaughter Vicky McDonald but made a brief return to Weatherfield in 2002 to testify in court against a former lover who had stolen from her, leaving abruptly after losing the case. In 2003, she was set to marry Cecil Newton in Blackpool but he died from a heart attack before making it to the altar.
Bet had her heart broken many times, becoming more cynical as she got older, but always managed to greet the punters with a smile. She was particularly affected by Martin's death in a car crash in 1975, which caused her to contemplate suicide. The quintessential blonde bombshell, Bet dressed glamorously with a fondness for leopard print clothes and a beehive hairstyle.
- 1 Biography
- 2 Personality
- 3 Other information
- 4 Background information
- 5 First and last lines
- 6 Appendices
- 7 See also
1942-1969: Early years
Bet Lynch was born to parents Patrick and Mary Lynch. Her father left when she was six months old, and although Bet had received a strict Catholic upbringing by her mother, it didn't stop her becoming Miss Weatherfield in 1957. When she was sixteen, she met a man called Joe Mason at a party. He was twelve years older than her. After getting her pregnant, Joe fled and Bet gave birth to a baby boy called Martin who she was forced to give up for adoption. A family called the Downes adopted Martin.
Bet arrived in Coronation Street in 1966, after getting a job at the PVC factory. She had an affair with her boss Jack Benjamin and gave Lucille Hewitt a black eye because of her jealousy over Lucille's speed of welding. She moved away from the area a few weeks later.
1970-1986: Behind the bar of the Rovers
Bet returned to the Street in 1970 when she bumped into Irma Barlow, with whom she had worked in the factory. Later in the year, Billy Walker employed her as a junior barmaid at the Rovers, a place where she would work for the next twenty-five years.
She entered into relationships with many men, including well-known Street residents such as Len Fairclough and Mike Baldwin. In 1975, Bet received news that her son Martin, now a soldier, had been killed in action while serving in Northern Ireland. She also found out that he had tracked her down but, disgusted by her overt sexual nature, left without telling her who he was. Bet was devastated and briefly considered suicide but was talked out of the idea by Eddie Yeats.
When Annie Walker retired in 1984, her son Billy took over the licence of the Rovers. He was involved in various dodgy dealings and screwed up frequently. He was the landlord for less than a year; he had no real interest in running the pub and got in trouble after holding lock-ins. Newton & Ridley were unhappy with the way Billy was running the pub into the ground and made him an offer he couldn't refuse for the licence.
The brewery decided to appoint a manager rather than sell the licence. Bet applied for the job but lacked the necessary experience, but, after receiving a petition from the regulars, Sarah Ridley appointed a flabbergasted but ecstatic Bet the new manageress of the Rovers. She moved out of the corner shop flat and into the Rovers in January 1985. Bet then took on Wilf Starkey as a potman, and he was later replaced by Jack Duckworth.
The Rovers was gutted by fire in 1986 with Bet trapped in the upstairs front bedroom. She was saved by Terry Duckworth and Kevin Webster, but the pub was so damaged that the brewery considered pulling it down. They soon changed their minds and the Rovers was completely redecorated with Bet retained as manageress.
1987-1994: Marriage to Alec Gilroy
During the rebuild, Alec Gilroy found himself enjoying an increase in business at the Graffiti Club with the Rovers out of action. As a result, he and Bet spent time together, and Alec found himself attracted to her and made no secret of it. When the Rovers reopened it struggled to regain custom, so Alec provided some musical acts to help entice the regulars back.
When the tenancy of the Rovers was being sold by the brewery in 1987, Bet couldn't come up with the money she needed to buy it, so Alec stepped in and offered her a loan. Bet struggled to keep up with the payments and, in a moment of panic, disappeared leaving Alec and the brewery in the lurch. She finally contacted Newton & Ridley months later and informed them she was living in Torremolinos. Alec managed to track her down and bring her back, and then proposed to her telling her that as his wife she wouldn't have to worry about the repayments and could continue to manage the Rovers. She accepted, reasoning that unlike most men she'd been with Alec hadn't pretended to love her and the two were married in September.
The marriage went better than expected, and by 1988 Bet had fallen pregnant. She and Alec were shocked, but both came round to the idea of being parents. However, she had a miscarriage and lost the baby leaving them heartbroken, but they put on a brave face and carried on. Bet and Alec would get the chance to raise a child of sorts when Alec's estranged daughter Sandra and her husband Tim were killed in an accident leaving their 14-year old daughter Victoria orphaned. As Tim and Sandra had been on route to her mother's funeral when they were killed, Alec was Vicky's closest living relative and he and Bet became her legal guardians. Bet took Vicky under her wing as if she were her own and they soon formed a close relationship. Over the next few years, Vicky would continue to attend her boarding school while spending her holidays at the Rovers.
In 1992, Alec was offered a job in Southampton and wanting to accept, argued with Bet that he had given her five years of running her own pub and now it was time for her to return the favour. Bet agreed, and the couple sold the tenancy back to the brewery. However, as the time to leave approached, Bet found herself completely unable to tear herself away from the pub where she had lived and worked for years. On the day of departure she told Alec she had persuaded Newton & Ridley to allow her to stay on as manager. Alec was livid and gave her an ultimatum: either she left with him or he would go alone and their marriage would be over. Bet chose the pub over her husband, and as far as Alec was concerned she was the one abandoning their marriage. He told her to tell people that he before he left.
1994-1995: Leaving the Rovers
Bet's next relationship was with long-distance trucker Charlie Whelan who she first met when he gave her and Raquel Wolstenhulme a lift home after a day shopping in the Boxing Day sales. Bet and Charlie began a relationship in January 1994 and he moved into the Rovers with her but Bet was left heartbroken again when Charlie was seduced by scheming barmaid Tanya Pooley and left with her for Germany on his rig. A few weeks later, Charlie returned with his tail between his legs, having been dumped by Tanya and seeking a second chance from Bet. After brief consideration, Bet told Charlie that she could never trust him again and sent him on his way.
Newton & Ridley decided once again to sell up in 1995, but this time they were selling the whole pub and not just the licence. Bet was offered first refusal, but she knew that she had no hope of coming up with the £68,000 they demanded. She tried to get the money together as best as she could, finally turning to close friend Rita Sullivan with the idea of a managing partnership.
Rita seriously considered the idea and came close to agreeing, as she had the money and it seemed like a good investment. However she began to get doubts when Bet began telling the residents that they were buying the Rovers when Rita hadn't actually agreed to the partnership. After seeking advice from Alf Roberts, Rita realised that as Bet had no savings despite claiming the Rovers was a success then both she and the business were a bad risk to back and pulled out. Bet, who had been led to believe that Rita was going to agree, was furious and they had a heated argument in The Kabin. Old resentments and bitter words were exchanged which ended the pair's years-long friendship permanently.
Bet then tried to ask step-granddaughter Vicky to borrow the money, but Vicky turned down the offer knowing Bet would never be able to pay it back. In at attempt at reconciliation, Vicky offered to buy Bet a house instead and charge her nominal rent however Bet was indignant at Vicky's offer and refused. She then told her to leave and, realising she now had no chance of buying of Rovers and was about to lose her job and home, threw everybody out of the pub in a fit of anger. Deciding to leave Weatherfield on her own terms, she quickly called a taxi and quietly left (not knowing where she was going) only saying goodbye to Don Brennan. She officially resigned from the pub the next day.
In a twist of fate, Alec returned to Weatherfield shortly after her departure and started working for the Duckworths when they took over the pub. Bet did not return for Betty Turpin's wedding to Billy Williams later in the year.
1995-2003: Later years
After leaving the Rovers and Weatherfield behind, Bet ended up in Tenerife where she met new lover, Bruce. He died suddenly and left her his boat, which she later sold in 1999 to raise much-needed funds. Bet used the money to buy a bar in Brighton close to Vicky.
Bet returned to Weatherfield in June 2002 for Betty's retirement party, which delighted her old friend. Bet revealed that she had made up with Vicky and had been running different pubs across the country for the last seven years, before finally settling down in Brighton. Audrey Roberts offered Bet a room at her house so she would have somewhere to sleep for the night - although Bet intended on staying for two weeks. A hesitant Rita turned up at Audrey's house the next day, hoping to make amends with Bet and salvage their friendship. After a grudging heart-to-heart, Bet revealed that she had moved on from Weatherfield, and that Rita's refusal to help probably did her the world of good. She also said that, despite all the airs and graces she put on, all Rita did was run The Kabin. Rita, feeling insulted, told Bet that she had turned into a hard, petty woman. It was later revealed that the reason Bet was back so she could testify against a former lover, Phil Bennett, who stole money from her. Both Mike Baldwin and Audrey went to court to support Bet, but she lost her case and once again left Weatherfield.
In November 2003, Bet crossed paths with Liz McDonald in Blackpool at a Newton & Ridley function. Bet became involved in Liz's problems - her husband Jim was on the run, having escaped prison. Bet was also due to be married to former brewery boss Cecil Newton, but he died of a heart attack just prior to their wedding ceremony. Bet later returned to Brighton.
- When Miss Weatherfield was too ill to open Alf Roberts' mini-market in September 1985, Bet stepped in to the role - she was Miss Weatherfield 1957.
- Between 1995 and 2002 Bet spent some time in Spain with her lover Bruce, where she was content until his death. Bruce left Bet his yacht, which she sold and bought a bar in Brighton with the proceeds.
- Between 2002 and 2003, Bet was living in Brighton close to Vicky McDonald.
- After divorcing Alec Gilroy, she changed her name back to Bet Lynch and vowed never to see him again, because he "screwed her over".
Bet Lynch originally appeared for a few weeks in 1966 as a factory worker in a short-term role. Goodyear was disappointed when her stint was up, but co-star Patricia Phoenix (who played Elsie Tanner) suggested to Goodyear that she should try and get some more acting experience. Although Goodyear had done so, producers were still not interested in bringing her back full-time.
In 1970, four years after her brief stint, a producer saw her acting in a stage play and, impressed with her, offered to bring her into the street on an initial six-month contract. It was intended for her to play a new character named "Julie Ganley", an old workmate of Irma Barlow, but it was decided instead to scrap the character and rewrite her as Bet Lynch, thus connecting her to her original 1966 stint. Julie Goodyear would go on to play the part of Bet Lynch for 25 years.
Goodyear quit the role in 1995, hoping to go on to other work, after winning a Lifetime Achievement Award at the inaugural National Television Awards - she was also nominated for Most Popular Actress, but lost out to Brookside's Anna Friel. Her exit aired in Episode 3922 on 16th October 1995. Goodyear reprised the role in the six-part spin-off Coronation Street - After Hours in November 1999, which was both shown on TV and released on video.
Seven years following her departure from the main show, it was decided to reintroduce Bet Lynch to the show in 2002 in an attempt to boost the programme's ratings, which were being beaten by rival soap EastEnders. Goodyear was given an initial one year contract, and Bet returned on-screen on 10th June 2002. The long-term plan for Bet Lynch was for her to become the manageress of the Rovers Return, which was being set up in her return episodes when Fred Elliott offered her the position (although Bet had turned it down at first). But behind the scenes, Goodyear was having trouble with the six days per week filming schedule, which was far more demanding than what she was used to before on the show. Having only filmed eight episodes, Goodyear pulled out of the series and Bet made her last appearance for that year on 23rd June 2002, with the character's off-screen departure being mentioned on 28th June. Following her departure Maureen Lipman was brought in as relief manager Lillian Spencer in July 2002, with her guest stint being far better received than Bet's return.
Goodyear returned to the show one last time for seven episodes in November 2003, as part of scenes set in Blackpool. These episodes also saw the return of former characters Liz McDonald and Jim McDonald. Episode 5636 (airing on 30th November 2003) featured Goodyear's final time as the character on the show.
In the years following Bet's exit, it was often speculated that she would return again. Rumours between 2010 and 2012 circulated that Bet Lynch would be brought back, sparked by producer Phil Collinson's apparent plans to bring the character back for the 50th anniversary of Coronation Street, although this never came to pass as he opted out of bringing back old characters for the celebration.
Following the death of Betty Williams actress Betty Driver in late 2011, Goodyear expressed her desire to make a one-off appearance for Betty's funeral. However, only actor Bill Kenwright was brought back as Betty's son Gordon Clegg for the character's death in 2012. In 2013, Goodyear admitted that she regretted her 2002 return as Bet, and later would rule out any possible return to the programme.
First and last lines
"It's all right kid, come on." (First line, to Cilla)
List of addresses
|Brighton||November 1999 onwards|