Phyllis Pearce (née Grimes) was the purple-haired, gravel-voiced pensioner who worked at Jim's Cafe from 1984 to 1989.

Phyllis arrived in Coronation Street in 1982 after tracking down her errant son-in-law's father - Chalkie Whitely, who was caring for Phyllis's grandson (and only living relative) Craig. When Chalkie and Craig emigrated to Australia, despondent Phyllis remained a familiar face in the area through her job at the cafe.

One bonus of staying local for Phyllis was that she could be close to fellow pensioner Percy Sugden. Percy was the object of Phyllis's affections and she doggedly pursued him for many years, despite an obvious lack of interest on Percy's side. Young at heart, Phyllis typically presented an upbeat attitude, enjoying the pleasures she had left in life rather than dwell on the negatives. She enjoyed her work and was disappointed to be forcibly retired from the cafe in 1989, although she did put in the occasional shift as a favour to owners Alma Sedgewick and Gail Tilsley afterwards.

In 1991, Phyllis got a new job as Des Barnes's housekeeper, which she greatly enjoyed and while she usually stayed out of Des's private life, which involved a string of love affairs, she did sometimes give him a talking-to when she thought he needed it. Phyllis moved into a retirement complex at Mayfield Court in 1996.

By 1998 Phyllis was still alive enjoying her retirement at Mayfield with Percy Sugden and Maud Grimes.


Born in 1921 to Joshua and Violet, Phyllis Grimes married Harold Pearce in 1946, having given birth to their daughter Margaret the year before. Both would predecease her with Margaret dying of cancer in 1977, having been told by her mother not to worry about a lump she had discovered.

By 1982 her only surviving family in the world was her grandson, Craig Whitely who was living with his paternal grandfather Chalkie. Phyllis tracked the pair down to their new home at 9 Coronation Street as she wanted Craig to come and live with her but Craig chose to continue living with Chalkie instead. Phyllis stayed in Weatherfield to be near Craig but was stunned when Bob Whitely, Craig's father returned in November to announce that he had left the Navy and was emigrating to Australia, taking Craig with him.

Following Craig's departure in December, Phyllis turned her attentions towards Chalkie - looking after him when he came down with flu. When Phyllis found out at the beginning of the year that her house on Omdurman Street was to be demolished, she hoped to move in with Chalkie but he turned her down as he hoped to sell the house as Bob needed the money. Fearing that if he did sell up he would move to Australia and would never see Craig again, Phyllis did all that she could to prevent it from happening. Phyllis' plans were thwarted when Chalkie won £3,543.75 at the bookies and he finally sold No.9 before leaving for Australia at the beginning of August 1983.

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Phyllis, Percy & Maud in the Rovers

Percy Sugden

In August 1984, Phyllis was employed by Gail Tilsley as a washer-upper at Jim's Cafe. Phyllis eventually got over Chalkie's departure and set her sights on Percy Sugden, the Community Centre's caretaker. Phyllis doggedly pursued Percy over the following years, chasing him at the Valentine's ball and looking after him while he was ill.

In September 1985, Phyllis was wooed by Sam Tindall, Percy's bowls rival, but she was not interested until she realised Percy was in the tournament too. She then offered herself up as a prize to the winner of the tournament. However, when Percy won he refused to take her on the Bowls trip to Southport with him - claiming there were no tickets left. Phyllis managed to obtain a ticket and join Percy, Sam and the bowls team on their trip and she and Percy ended up missing the coach back. When Emily Bishop invited Phyllis for Christmas dinner she accepted but asked that Emily keep it secret from Percy. Much to Emily's surprise, Phyllis and Percy appeared to get on well come Christmas Day.

In 1993, she won a poetry competition for a poem about her love for Percy, and in January 1996, her hopes rocketed as Maud Grimes read Phyllis' tea leaves and told her the man of her dreams was coming into her life. Sadly, Maud had mixed up the cups!


Des Barnes

There was one other man in Phyllis' life - Des Barnes. Des took pity on Phyllis when she lost her cafe job and let her become housekeeper at 6 Coronation Street. Although Phyllis had seen plenty of Des's philandering, she had always been discreet, though at times she had to turn a blind eye or give Des a good talking-to.

First and last lines

"Found you 'ave I? In your rat'ole." (First line, to Chalkie Whitely)


"There's three wheelie bins under my window, and I've never turned my gas low." (Final line, to Maud Grimes)

See also

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