Suzanne "Suzie" Birchall was a friend of Gail Potter's and fellow lodger at 11 Coronation Street, home of Elsie Tanner, from 1977 to 1979. Young and vivacious, Suzie had affairs with Steve Fisher and Mike Baldwin before leaving Weatherfield for London when Elsie decided to sell the house (although she changed her mind after Suzie left).
Suzie returned in 1983, escaping from her marriage to abusive Terry Goodwin. She moved back into No.11 and took a job as a barmaid at the Rovers Return Inn but was thrown out by Elsie after trying to seduce Gail's husband Brian Tilsley.
1958-1978: The lodgersEdit
In January 1977, Suzie looked for work in Coronation Street, close to her lodgings. Local employer Mike Baldwin was impressed with her enough to give her a job at his clothing shop Sylvia's Separates, where she worked with fellow teen Gail Potter. Suzie and Gail clashed initially as both considered themselves in charge but with Gail established as manageress they soon became friends.
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.
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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
- 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.
- Cheryl Murray was cast as Suzie in 1976 and renewed her initial four-episode contract when writers wanted the character to continue in the programme, with hopes that she would become the new Elsie Tanner. She first appeared in Episode 1668 on 10th January 1977.
- Suzie's key relationship in the show was her friendship with Gail Potter, and most of her storylines revolved around their antics. Murray believed that the success of the characters was due to the believability of their friendship, with worldly Suzie often protecting Gail.
- Suzie was written out in 1979 when Producer Bill Podmore decided that the character had run its course, particularly in light of Gail's marriage to Brian Tilsley and departure from No.11, which left Suzie as Elsie's sole lodger. Earlier in the year, Murray had considered leaving but had decided to stay with the programme, and was very upset that her contract wasn't being renewed.
- Murray later appeared as Suzie from January to June 1983. She appeared in 195 episodes in total.
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)
"Blackburn? Well it's a start I suppose." (Final line)