Ivy Joan Brennan (née Nelson, previously Tilsley) was the God-fearing mother of Brian Tilsley and mother-in-law of Gail. A long-term employee at Baldwin's Casuals, Ivy was a resident of 5 Coronation Street from 1979 to 1994.
Prior to living in the Street, Ivy had been employed at the Mark Brittain Warehouse and between 1976 and 1989 she was a machinist at Baldwin's denim factory, also serving as shop steward and supervisor at various times. She was never afraid to speak her mind and frequently stood up to Mike on behalf of her colleagues, including Ida Clough and best friend Vera Duckworth. After the factory was demolished, Ivy continued in the rag trade at Ingram's Textiles before ending up at Bettabuy supermarket.
1979 saw Ivy, her husband Bert and 20-year-old son Brian move into No.5 and Brian fly the nest to marry Gail Potter. Bert's years in Street were mostly spent out of work and in 1984 he died from a stroke in a psychiatric hospital. As a widow, Ivy's attentions were focused on Brian's family, including her grandchildren Nicky and Sarah Louise who Ivy doted on. A staunch Catholic, Ivy disapproved of Brian and Gail's decision to separate and ultimately divorce. After Brian was killed in a stabbing in 1989, Ivy continued to meddle under the guise of protecting his memory, notably attempting to thwart Gail's second husband Martin Platt's plans to adopt Brian's children.
Ivy herself was married again, to taxi driver Don Brennan in 1988. In 1991, Ivy's unreasonable behaviour drove Don into the arms of barmaid Julie Dewhurst. Don left Ivy after surviving a suicide attempt but patched things up to help Ivy beat the bottle when she turned to drink. As their unhappy marriage continued, Ivy eventually went to stay at a religious retreat and in 1995 she died there after suffering a stroke.
Ivy initially worked at the Mark Brittain warehouse. She and fellow worker Edna Gee spread rumours that new supervisor Elsie Tanner was having an affair with personnel manager Dennis Maxwell. In spite of this incident, Elsie and husband Alan Howard allowed Ivy to stay in their home in 1972, when Ivy's husband cheated on her. Ivy began a relationship with storeman George Harrop, and was the subject of her own set of rumours when Edna told people that Ivy was infatuated with Alan. The Howards were relieved when Ivy returned home.
Ivy's family troubles
There was always tension between Ivy, a devout Roman Catholic, and her daughter-in-law Gail, as Gail initially did not want to convert to the Tilsley family religion, and Ivy felt Gail did not respect the close relationship between mother and son. Matters were made worse when Ivy's husband Bert, who was a calming influence, was institutionalized and died. She did not approve of Gail returning to work and placing her children with a child-minder.
Ivy tried to accept Gail, and when Brian tired of married life and separated from Gail, Ivy took her daughter-in-law's side and ordered Brian to return to his wife. However later Gail had an affair with Brennan cousin Ian Latimer and fell pregnant, Ivy never forgave her. Even when the baby was proven to be Brian's, Ivy still harboured some doubts as to the child's paternity. Due to this doubt (in spite of a DNA test), Ivy never fully accepted Sarah-Louise as her granddaughter and most of her affections went to Nicky.
Relationship with George Wardle
In 1985, Ivy began dating George Wardle, the new van driver at Baldwin's. They both went to the same church, where George coached a junior league rugby team. Ivy used her master key to drive the work van to the match, which ended in violence, with graffiti on the van and a black eye on Ivy. Mike took the repair costs out of their pay packets. After a trip to the Isle of Man, George proposed to Ivy, but she eventually turned him down when he said as a divorcee, he could not marry in the church. A month later, she changed her mind, and begged him to take her back. This caused her son Brian to label her a "slut." In spite of her pleas, George began dating another woman. Ivy's pain nearly caused her to leave the church.
Marriage to Don Brennan
In 1989, Ivy's life changed forever when her son Brian was murdered. Ivy turned more and more to religion, and spent more time interfering in Nicky's life, thus causing tension with Gail. Ivy also began to obsess over preserving the memories of both Bert and Brian, which resulted in Don feeling left out.
Ivy was scandalised when Gail married Martin Platt, who was many years her junior. She was also bitter that Gail changed Nick and Sarah Louise's surname from Tilsley to Platt. After a confrontation with Martin at the football pitch (where Ivy had gotten Nicky a position on the team in exchange for Nicky becoming an altar boy at her church), Ivy reported Martin and Gail to Social Services. Don forced Ivy to apologise.
In 1991, Don began an affair with a barmaid, Julie Dewhurst. When Julie broke up with him, Don crashed his car in a suicide bid and had to have his lower left leg amputated. Ivy was devastated by his adultery and began drinking heavily, losing her job at Bettabuy. Don reconciled with her, but insisted he stay in a separate bedroom. Eventually, Don could take no more of Ivy and left her.
Exit and death
In early 1994, after the final collapse of her marriage, Ivy went on a long-term retreat in a convent, where she had a stroke and died. Her grandson Nick blamed Don, as Don had gone to ask her for a divorce three weeks before her death. Ivy's will also caused a lot of trouble in the family, as she had left Don and Sarah Louise nothing while leaving Nick her house under the condition that he changed his surname from Platt back to Tilsley. Nick agreed, and the name change went through although he allowed Don to remain in the house on the condition he paid rent.
Hobbies and interests
- A few years after Ivy's passing, Vera was sure she saw Ivy's ghost on the landing as she was in No. 5 and had gone upstairs to use the toilet. Ivy's granddaughter Sarah Louise then became convinced she'd also seen Ivy. Don solved the matter by hiring a fake exorcist to drive away Ivy's spirit.
- In December 2006, Ivy's old diary was discovered in the loft of No.5 by Sophie Webster, who confided in her friend Chesney Battersby-Brown about the find. Sophie and Chesney used the diary to fool several residents into thinking she was psychic by referencing past events written in the diary. David Platt read the diary with much amusement along with Maria Sutherland until Maria read a particular passage containing information about Ivy's bitterness toward Gail and David's father, Martin, and the fact that Gail had intended to have an abortion. David then wrapped the diary as a Christmas present and gave it to Gail. He subsequently read passages aloud to his whole family and their dinner guests, the Websters.
- For most of Ivy's first decade on the Street, her back story was not set in stone. First credited as Ivy Tyldesley, she was married to a man named Wilf. By 1975, her surname had changed to Tilsley, and she talked about her heartbreak as she and her husband Jack had been unable to conceive a child. By 1979, Ivy's husband was named Bert and they had a strapping young son named Brian. Actress Lynne Perrie joked that she was the most promiscuous woman on the Street.
- Ivy's brash precedence for speaking her mind and constant interfering led fans and the media to nickname her "Poison Ivy."
- Lynne Perrie was fired in 1994 after having cosmetic surgery on her lips without consulting producers and made her final appearance as the character in Episode 3676 on 25th March 1994. She had no on-screen exit, and the explanation was later given that the character left to go to a religious retreat. The character was killed off-screen on 23rd August 1995, seventeen months after her final appearance.
First and last lines
"Hello" (Final line, to Martin Platt).