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Suzanne "Suzie" Birchall was the daughter of Bob and Margaret Birchall, and former wife to the abusive Terry Goodwin.

First finding her way onto Coronation Street in January 1977, Suzie was taken on at Sylvia's Separates by Mike Baldwin and soon befriended colleague Gail Potter. Eventually, Suzie persuaded Gail's landlady Elsie Tanner to allow her to move into 11 Coronation Street - but she soon began causing trouble and encouraged Gail to engage in mischief with her. Friction began to arise between Suzie and Gail as Steve Fisher fell for Suzie, despite Gail being interested in him, however Suzie instead dated Mike after being impressed by his flash lifestyle. Suzie's relationship with Mike didn't last, and in 1978 he planned to close the boutique and fired both Suzie and Gail using the fact that they often closed the shop early to spend time drinking at the Rovers Return as an excuse to sack them. However, Steve learnt that the girls had grounds for unfair dismissal and Mike paid the pair compensation. With their newfound sum of money the girls planned to move to London, but Gail decided against the move at the last second and Suzie departed alone - only to return a few weeks later.

Upon her return Suzie was once again hired by Mike, this time as machinist at Baldwin's Casuals, and later cemented her friendship with Gail by fighting her corner against her partner Brian Tilsley's overprotective mother Ivy. When Brian and Gail married in November 1979, Gail moved out of No.11 and Elsie decided to sell the property in order to move to Torquay with her boyfriend Ron Mather. Suzie attempted to put potential buyers off the property, but when Elsie found out Suzie decided to leave Weatherfield and return to London.

In January 1983, Suzie returned to the area and was taken in by Elsie - who had decided not to sell her house years earlier. Suzie began to relax back into life on the street after being hired as a barmaid by Annie Walker at the Rovers, but was soon located by her abusive husband Terry. After discovering fresh bruises on Suzie's face, Elsie realised Terry was to blame and stood up to him - forcing him to leave the street for good. Over time Suzie grew jealous of Gail's life with Brian and their son Nicky, and set out to seduce Brian. When Brian rejected her advances and informed Gail, Elsie furiously chucked Suzie out of her house and she once again left Weatherfield.

BiographyEdit

1958-1977: Coming of age and fleeing homeEdit

Born on 3rd May 1958 to Bob and Margaret Birchall, Suzie was an only child and raised in a loveless household under the strict rule of her controlling father. While Bob stopped short of physical abuse, he often became aggressive towards Margaret and Suzie came to understand the emotional damage he had inflicted upon her mother. When she was old enough Suzie left home having grown tired of her father's behaviour and, although she regretted abandoning her mother, she kept her whereabouts secret from both her parents.

1977-1978: A new start on Coronation StreetEdit

Episode 1668

January 1977: Suzie shocks Gail Potter by serving in the shop and informs her that Mike Baldwin left her in charge.

Having found accommodation Suzie realised that she would require a job to help pay the bills and began looking for work close to her lodgings on Coronation Street. Immediately Suzie attempted to inquire for a job at Baldwin's Casuals but Ernie Bishop was forced to decline due to the fact that she had no prior experience, however Mike Baldwin was impressed with her and offered to take her on at Sylvia's Separates instead. When fellow worker Gail Potter returned from her lunch she was shocked to discover Suzie serving and, when challenged, Suzie informed her that she'd been left in charge by Mike. As the two girls began to bicker about who was really in charge, the pair decided that they needed to confront Mike - who was left infuriated when they interrupted a business meeting and insisted that Gail was in fact the manageress.

In order to get one over on Gail, Suzie began to suggest to Mike that the shop needed a new image - an idea that she knew Gail wasn't keen on - to which he agreed and hired electrician Alec Baker to oversee the shop's redesign into The Western Front. However, her plan backfired when Alec showed an interest in Gail and invited her to the dance being held at the Community Centre. When Gail began to play hard to get Alec changed his mind and invited Suzie instead. In February, Suzie was thrown out of her lodgings and Gail's landlady Elsie Tanner let her stay the night at No.11. Keen to stay longer, Suzie went on a charm offensive and eventually Elsie relented, impressed at Suzie's cheek for lying to Elsie that her landlord was into Nazis. Confident and sassy, Suzie reminded Elsie of herself as a teenager and she was willing to give her a chance - although she refused to allow her to keep stray dog Albert, and was furious when Albert ruined a dress of hers.

Suzie was the more worldly wise of herself and Gail, and she often talked sensible Gail into engaging in mischief with her, usually involving men; in July, when Elsie was on holiday, Suzie invited French student Roger Floriet to stay at No.11. Suzie and Gail both fell for him and he liked them both, and invited them to return to France with him, but he returned alone as he couldn't choose between them. Later that year, Bob caught up with Suzie and arrived in Coronation Street, intending to take her back home with him, as Margaret had left him and he needed someone to cook and clean for him. Suzie was pleased that her mum had finally had the courage to leave her abusive husband but was distressed at having to deal with him. When Bob tried to manhandle Suzie into his car, Steve Fisher, van driver for Baldwin's Casuals, dragged him off. Bob admitted defeat and left.

Suzie gail 1977

Suzie and Gail, 1977

Never one to put work first, Suzie's main concern was usually her love life. She considered going out with Steve, as he had fallen for her, but preferred older men. She was excited when Mike Baldwin asked her out but when Steve warned her that Mike was only trying to win a bet, she decided to stand him up. Suzie later went out with Mike anyway, won over by his flash lifestyle, but grew fed up when he didn't try it on, and got one over on him by inviting both Mike and Robin Smethurst to a disco with her, and going off with Robin. In 1978, Suzie decided that she wanted Steve after all and lured him to bed, despite Gail being interested in him.

1978-1979: Chasing a dreamEdit

Later that year, Mike decided to close the shop as he feared losing business from a large boutique which was about to open in the area. Suzie and Gail often closed the shop early and went to the Rovers and this gave Mike an excuse to sack them, and avoid paying redundancy money. When Steve found out that the girls had grounds for unfair dismissal, Suzie was interested in pursuing it but Gail convinced her that they should settle for compensation, which Mike was willing to pay if they kept quiet. After receiving their payments, Suzie and Gail decided to start new lives in London but Gail backed out, fearing the reality wouldn't live up to the dream and they'd have a horrible time. Suzie decided to go alone.

Only a few weeks later, Suzie returned to Weatherfield, having struggled for money in London and decided that she was better off at No.11 after all. She tried to save face by telling her friends that she had had a great time but Gail and Elsie saw through her facade. Suzie liked to impress others with stories of her exciting lifestyle and didn't like facing up to the truth - this extended to her line of work on her return to Weatherfield, which saw her demonstrating in a supermarket and boast to friends that she was a model. She also took up with her agency's owner Paul Stringer, who was fifty-two years old. Elsie didn't like Suzie using her house for sex with Paul and forbade it, although Suzie soon dumped Paul anyway as she was tired of continual late nights spend with him and felt like a slut when with him.

Gail brian weddingphoto

Suzie is Gail's bridesmaid, 1979

Over time, Suzie became more dissatisfied with her life and quit her demonstrating job. After a brief period phone canvassing selling dancing lessons, Suzie was offered a job as a trainee machinist at Baldwin's Casuals and surprised Steve and Mike with her skill as a machinist.

1979 saw Gail fall for Brian Tilsley and the pair get engaged. Suzie supported Gail and fought her corner against Ivy Tilsley, Brian's overprotective mother who didn't consider Gail good enough for Brian. A dance between Suzie and Brian temporarily caused a rift between Suzie and a jealous Gail, although they soon made up. In November, Gail and Brian married, with Suzie acting as bridesmaid, and Gail moved out of No.11. Elsie was in the process of moving to Torquay with her boyfriend Ron Mather and had decided to sell No.11. Determined to prolong her stay, Suzie put off prospective buyers and scared the neighbours by introducing them to her make-up wearing punk boyfriend Norman Mannion, and telling them that he was buying the house. However, after being warned by Elsie, and sacked by Mike for her poor timekeeping at the factory, Suzie decided she had had enough of Weatherfield and left for London.

1980-1983: Escaping an abusive marriageEdit

As before, London didn't deliver the high life Suzie wanted. She never found long-term work and she married Terry Goodwin, who she left after three months as he was abusive.

1983: Return and bitternessEdit

In January 1983, she returned to Weatherfield and found her old friends were welcoming, with Elsie agreeing to take her in, having decided not to sell the house after Suzie's departure some years earlier. Suzie shared a room with Marion Willis, who wasn't prepared to put up with her lazy, work-shy attitude and failure to pull her weight with the housekeeping and eventually moved into the front parlour.

In her time away, Suzie had gained bar experience and so Rovers potman Fred Gee was able to persuade landlady Annie Walker to take her on at the Rovers, even though they were fully staffed. Bet Lynch worried that she would be replaced as Suzie was instantly popular with the regulars, but when Bet and Betty Turpin returned to work, Annie duly gave Suzie her notice.

Elsie suzie

Elsie gives Suzie her marching orders

In April, Terry located Suzie and showed up at No.11, explaining to Suzie that his abusive behaviour was due to his depression over losing his job. Elsie initially tried to get them together but on seeing fresh bruises on Suzie's face decided to see Terry off herself, when he broke into the house and waited for Suzie. Suzie filed for divorce, and Terry agreed.

In the intervening few years, Gail had settled down with Brian and they had a son, Nicky. Suzie was annoyed when Gail boasted that she had the perfect family and set out to prove that Brian was nothing special by seducing him. She was surprised when he refused her advances and told Gail, who confronted Suzie and rowed with her. When Elsie broke up the row and listened to their versions of events - with Suzie saying that Brian had reciprocated - she chose to believe Gail and told Suzie that she wasn't welcome in her house anymore. Suzie thought Elsie would change her mind when she cooled down but the next day Elsie stood firm and threw Suzie out.

PersonalityEdit

Duckworths 1983
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RelationshipsEdit

FamilyEdit

Bob and Margaret BirchallEdit

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SpousesEdit

Terry GoodwinEdit

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PartnersEdit

Mike BaldwinEdit

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RivalsEdit

Gail TilsleyEdit

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Brian TilsleyEdit

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Marion YeatsEdit

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AcquaintanceEdit

Elsie TannerEdit

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Other informationEdit

  • Suzie was a natural redhead, but often dyed her hair with peroxide. At one point in 1983, she lived with Elsie Tanner and Marion Willis, who were both also redheads.
  • Suzie's wild ways incurred the wrath of one particular neighbour - Hilda Ogden. Shortly after moving into No.11, Suzie tried to do a favour for Elsie by cleaning her chimney by dropping a brick down it, but threw it down No.13's chimney instead, covering the Ogdens in soot. In 1978, Suzie put her foot through No.13's bedroom ceiling while moving around in the loftspace, instigating a war between Elsie and Hilda.
  • Suzie and Steve Fisher were partners in a pram race in 1978, but were disqualified when Suzie drank half of Steve's pint at one of the pubs they visited as part of the pub crawl.
  • Suzie didn't like being insulted. When Eddie Yeats told her she had a fat bottom, she got revenge by planting hard boiled eggs in the Ogdens' hen coop, which led to embarrassment for Eddie and Stan.

Role in the communityEdit

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Hobbies and interestsEdit

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Background informationEdit

Character creation and roleEdit

Suzie Birchall promo

1983: Publicity shot of Cheryl Murray as returnee Suzie Birchall.

Suzie first appeared in Episode 1668 in January 1977. Cheryl Murray was cast in 1976 and renewed her initial four-episode contract when writers wanted the character to continue on the programme - with hopes that she would become the next Elsie Tanner (Patricia Phoenix). Murray's character was advertised as being a "cynical, peroxide blonde teenager" who was more interested in having fun than being responsible. Early on Suzie was established as a colleague and friend of Gail Potter (Helen Worth)'s at Sylvia's Separates - and the pair became roommates when Susie moved into 11 Coronation Street after being accepted by landlady Elsie. Most of Suzie's storylines revolved around her and Gail's antics, and Murray believed that the success of the character was due to the believably of the pair's friendship - with worldly Suzie often protecting Gail. Before her casting in Coronation Street Murray had only appeared in small television roles including episodes of; Within These Walls, Zigger Zigger, Crown Court and Hi-De-Hi!.

Suzie was written out of the show in 1979 when Producer Bill Podmore deemed her surplus to requirements following Gail's marriage to Brian Tilsley (Christopher Quinten) and departure from No.11 - which left Suzie as Elsie's sole lodger. Earlier in the year, Murray had considered leaving the show but had ultimately decided to stay with the programme and was quite upset when her contract wasn't renewed. The character departed during Episode 1953 in December 1979. Despite this Murray returned to the role between January and June 1983, which saw Suzie return having fled an abusive husband Terry Goodwin (Terence Hillyer) but ultimately being shunned after growing jealous of Gail's life and attempting to seduce Brian.

I Want to Break Free music videoEdit

Suzie Birchall Queen parody

1984: The character of Suzie was parodied by Roger Taylor (far left) in the music video for Queen's I Want to Break Free.

The character of Suzie was parodied in the famous song "I Want to Break Free" by Queen which is largely known for its music video during which all the band members; Roger Taylor, Brian May, Freddie Mercury and John Deacon, dressed in women's clothes and parodied characters from Coronation Street. The four characters parodied included Suzie (Taylor), Hilda Ogden (May), Bet Lynch (Mercury) and Ena Sharples (Deacon). On the video Taylor commented "We had done some really serious, epic videos in the past, and we just thought we'd have some fun. We wanted people to know that we didn't take ourselves too seriously, that we could still laugh at ourselves. I think we proved that."

AppendicesEdit

List of addressesEdit

Address Duration
Unknown lodgings Unknown to 23rd February 1977
11 Coronation Street 23rd February 1977 to 6th December 1978
Paddington, London 6th December 1978 to 15th January 1979
11 Coronation Street 15th January 1979 to 19th December 1979
London 19th December 1979 to 24th January 1983
5 Buxton Close 24th January 1983 to 31st January 1983
11 Coronation Street 31st January 1983 to 29th June 1983
Blackburn, Lancashire 29th June 1983 to unknown


Employment historyEdit

Role Institution Duration
Shop Assistant Sylvia's Separates /
The Western Front
10th January 1977 to 22nd November 1978
Demonstrator Ted Thomas Associates 22nd January 1979 to 19th February 1979
Telemarketer Unknown 4th July 1979 to 11th July 1979
Machinist Baldwin's Casuals 11th July 1979 to 19th December 1979
Barmaid London Hilton Unknown
Barmaid Rovers Return Inn 7th February 1983 to 9th March 1983

First and last linesEdit

"Oh, me Auntie Ethel's just the same. D'yknow me Uncle Alf bashes hell of her every Friday night, do you know what she blames it on? Canteen dinners." (First line)

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"Blackburn? Well it's a start I suppose." (Final line)

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit

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