Elsie Noel Dyson (born 23rd December 1916, died 29th June 1995), was born in Oldham, the daughter of a cotton broker. After training with RADA and working on stage, television and film, Noel played Ida Barlow, the first major character to be killed off in Coronation Street. She joined the programme believing that the show was only going to run a few weeks. When it was renewed through 1962, she quit and her character of Ida died when she was struck by a bus, a plotline that pleased the actress who was adamant that she did not want Ida to die of a heart attack. She continued to act after leaving the programme and was a regular guest actor in television programmes until the mid 1990s, including the Street spin-off Turn out the Lights in 1967.
Her most significant role was that of 'Nanny' in Father, Dear Father. She reprised this role in the spin-off series Father, Dear Father in Australia, and the film version of the sit-com. She was twice married, first to actor Kenneth Edwards and then after his death to schoolmaster Harry Judge, and had three step-children. She died of pancreatic cancer at her home in Winchcombe, Gloucestershire, at the age of 79.
Ms Dyson left an enduring legacy for the programme in the form of an ivy plant that she gave to the cast for their green room (i.e. resting area) upon her departure. The acting profession is notoriously superstitious and within the Coronation Street team of the 1960s a belief rose that if the plant ever died, so would the programme. This belief has perpetuated to this day and the plant and its cuttings have been carefully tendered ever since. It has even had the name bestowed upon it of "Dear Quatermass" and Patricia Phoenix, Jean Alexander, Thelma Barlow and Barbara Knox are among many who have carefully tendered the tendrils over the years.