John Harold "Jack" Duckworth was the husband of the late Vera. The Duckworths lived at 9 Coronation Street from 1983 to 1995 and again from 2000 to 2009, with a spell as landlords of the Rovers Return Inn in between.
Jack loved beer, his pigeons, gambling, and most of all his freedom from Vera when he could get it. Despite loving each other deep down, he and Vera were always rowing. Jack was no pushover but he could seem to be under Vera's thumb, tending to fall into line after receiving an ear-lashing from his wife. However, they managed to stay married for fifty years as when times were hard (which they invariably were) they were there for each other.
This was true particularly where their only son Terry was concerned. Like Jack, Terry was something of a lack-the-lad, but Terry lacked his father's empathy and would do anything for money, including selling his own son Tommy, which caused Jack to disown him in 1993. Though Jack was never fooled by Terry, he had to put up with him for Vera's sake whenever he showed his face and pick up the pieces left in his wake. More of a son to the Duckworths was Tyrone Dobbs, their long-term lodger to whom Jack sold No.9 when he and Vera retired.
Work-wise, Jack was a taxi driver for a few years before becoming cellarman at the Rovers in 1985. After ten years of being the whipping boy at the boozer, Jack bought the pub with his inheritance following the death of his brother Clifford. The Duckworths managed three years there before being bought out by Alec Gilroy. The next two years were spent managing the Park Road B&B, after which Jack bought No.9 again.
In 2008, the Duckworths planned to retire to Blackpool but Vera died in her sleep in and Jack remained in Weatherfield as Tyrone and Molly Compton's lodger, later moving in with his fellow pigeon-lover Connie Rathbone. He passed away in 2010 after contracting Non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Jack was born to parents Harry and Maggie Duckworth in 1936 and brought up on Butler Street. Jack was a 'delicate child' who was not expected to live to his first birthday. While working at a British fairground ride, the Waltzer, he met Veronica Burton and they began a relationship. They got married in 1957 and had a son named Terry.
Married life to VeraEdit
During a trip to the United States, Jack confessed to having lied at their wedding (by making a smudge on his year of birth to make it look like another number), and said he was two years older than he really was just to impress a young Vera. Since they were not legally married, they tied the knot in the famous Little White Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas.
The Duckworth marriage was always rocky, owing in part to their wayward son, Terry, and extra-marital flings by both Jack and Vera. In 1982, Jack had an affair with the street's prolific man-eater Bet Lynch, which she later regretted. He enrolled with a video dating agency in 1983, calling himself Vince St. Clair and adopted a white suit, gold medallion and fake trans-Atlantic accent. Vera, alerted by Bet Lynch, arranged to meet Jack under the name of Carole Munro. The meeting took place in the Rovers, with Vera wearing a ginger wig. This led to a classic confrontation; 'Carole Munroe' had been claiming to be a rich widow, which led Jack to say "You're no flamin' widow!" As Vera swiped Jack with her handbag she shouted "No! But I will be ten minutes after I get you home!"
Vera also had her fair share of lovers. She was tempted by a former romance in with the smarmy Lester Fontayne, but realised she could never leave Jack. In the year 2000, when she believed she was about to die in an operation, she confessed to Jack through a goodbye letter that Terry may not have been his real son due to a fling early in their marriage. Jack confessed to Curly Watts that he knew of the affair at the time (and put an end to it by beating up her lover unknown to Vera), but also knew that Terry was his son, as he reminded him too much of himself.
The Duckworth grandchildrenEdit
The Duckworths had three grandchildren: Paul (by Andrea Clayton), Tommy (by Lisa Duckworth), and Brad (by Tricia Armstrong), but they hardly saw any of them due to Terry's reluctance to be a father. Paul was conceived in the mid-1980s, but the teenage Andrea fled with her family to escape Terry. In the early 1990s, Terry made his then girlfriend, Lisa Horton, pregnant. He was imprisoned but vowed to marry her, and the pair were delighted when Terry was allowed out of prison (although handcuffed) for one day only for his wedding. They duly married but the groom escaped from the police and went on the run. He was later re-captured in a supermarket car park, where he had lingered too long in order to tell Lisa how much he loved her and that the flight from the wedding was just opportunistic and didn't reflect on their relationship.
However, she knew that Terry was a rogue and always would be, so she broke off their relationship and, despite being pregnant, set up home with Des Barnes at No.6. Vera turned against her instantly, even accusing her of being the reason for Terry's misfortune. Jack however knew that Terry would never stand by his family, but felt duty bound to stand by his wife in their shunning of Lisa. She gave birth to a little boy, Tommy, and everything seemed perfect for their surrogate family, until one night Lisa was killed by a car as she was leaving the Rovers and crossing the street.
Following this tragedy, Tommy went to live with his paternal grandparents, but Jack and Vera found it hard to cope. They also suffered financially. A callous Terry sold his son to his maternal grandparents, the Hortons of Blackpool, despite Vera's impassioned pleas. Jack's response to Terry's actions was more straightforward and uncompromising - he punched Terry on the jaw.
Terry's one-night stand with barmaid Tricia Armstrong resulted in baby Brad, but Terry didn't want to know about his son, and Tricia left with a new lover, decorator Ray Thorpe. The Duckworths tried several times to win custody of Tommy from the Hortons, but to no avail. They continued to see him occasionally, but relations remained strained.
Later years and losing VeraEdit
Jack and Vera calmed down in their later years, becoming more of a down-to-earth northern couple. They became surrogate parents for Tyrone Dobbs (whose mother, Jackie, had been in prison for violence). Jack considered him to be more his own son than Terry ever was. Jack adored his pigeons, though Vera could not stand them, and once tricked him into believing that she had cooked him a pigeon pie. In 2005 Jack agreed to sell his dead body for a certain sum of cash to an artist who enjoys painting stuffed humans, so he could buy Vera a Christmas present. When Vera discovered this, she argued with the woman. The artist was in spired to ask both Jack and Vera to pose nude for the artist, on condition that they would be buried as normal. The Duckworths celebrated their Golden wedding anniversary with a party at the Rovers in August 2007.
Vera died suddenly on 18th January 2008 in the armchair at her house, where she was discovered by a devastated Jack. They had been planning to move to Blackpool at the time, but Vera's death prompted Jack to call off the move and remain in Weatherfield. He still planned on selling the house to Tyrone and his fiancée Molly Compton and eventually did so, but still remained resident.
Jack began a friendship with a pigeon lover called Connie in 2009, although Tyrone didn't approve as he saw her just wanting to replace Vera. However Tyrone eventually accepted her and put behind his stubbornness. Connie was well off, and Jack left to live with her but still visited the Street. He was touched deeply when Tyrone and Molly had a son and named him Jack.
Last few months and deathEdit
In 2010, Jack suddenly returned - no longer living with Connie but wouldn't say why. Tyrone and Molly allowed him to move back in to No.9, but wanted to know what exactly was going on especially when Connie turned up and demanded he be honest. Jack then confessed to Tyrone he had non-Hodgkin lymphoma which was incurable and he would be dead within weeks. Tyrone was devastated, but he and Jack resolved to make the most of his last few weeks. Jack also decided to perform secret acts of kindness for his friends and neighbours. He donated £2,000 to help fix the church roof after seeing Emily Bishop collecting in the Rovers, and when he heard Sally Webster say that she had always wanted to go to an opera he anonymously bought her tickets. He also helped Ashley Peacock and his wife Claire through their marriage difficulties by encouraging them to talk to each other. Knowing that Jack's upcoming birthday would be his last, Tyrone set about organising a party in the Rovers to celebrate.
One night, Jack was left extremely upset when he overheard an argument between Molly and Kevin Webster and learned that Molly had cheated on Tyrone with Kevin who was actually Jack's father but initially kept the information to himself. On 7th November, Jack enjoyed the gathering at the Rovers for his birthday seeing his long-time friends and neighbours but could barely contain his hostility around Kevin. He then confessed to Molly that he knew about her and Kevin, but told her that he and Vera had both cheated on each other more than once but still had a wonderful marriage. However he warned her to move away from Weatherfield with Tyrone and Jack, as it was the only way to put the affair truly behind her. He then decided to slip away from the party, with Ken Barlow raising a glass to him as he left.
Jack returned to the house after a final look at the bustling street where he'd spent so long and put on one of Vera's records and went to sleep. He woke up to a familiar voice and saw the spirit of Vera standing in front of him, beckoning him to join her. As Jack believed he was enjoying a romantic dance with Vera, he peacefully passed away in his armchair. Tyrone, Molly and Connie found Jack's body shortly afterwards, and Tyrone said an emotional farewell to his 'dad'.
- Before William Tarmey first appeared as Jack Duckworth in 1979, he was an extra on the show, and made background appearances, normally in the Rovers. In December 1978, he played the minor speaking role of Jack Rowe.
- Having been seen briefly in late November 1979, the character did not feature in the show in 1980. He became a semi-regular in 1981, and a Street resident and regular character in 1983.
- From September 2009 onwards, Jack Duckworth became a recurring character, due to Tarmey's failing health. He quit in 2010 and the character departed on-screen in November 2010.
- Tarmey was originally going to reprise his role as Jack for ITV's Text Santa sketch, broadcast on 21st December 2012, however he passed away on 9th November. Instead his voice could be heard in this mini-episode. Elizabeth Dawn reprised the role of Vera Duckworth for the special.
First and last linesEdit
"Gin and orange." (First line)
"I'll give you three guesses." (Final line)