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Bill Tarmey 1941 - 2012: Obituary for 'Coronation Street's Jack Duckworth

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Bill Tarmey was born William Piddington on April 4, 1941 in Ardwick, Manchester. He was brought up in Bradford as his family moved there shortly after his birth. Bill's father William was killed by shellfire while driving an ambulance in the Netherlands during the Second World War, while his mother Lilian later remarried, tying the knot with Robert Cleworth.

Robert worked as an asphalt spreader and Bill became his apprentice in his teenage years after completing his education at the Bradford Memorial School and the Queens Street School. Bill went on to work in the building industry for a number of years.

Photo gallery - Bill Tarmey's life and career:
In 1955, 14-year-old Bill met his future wife Alma at a local youth group. The pair married in 1962 and had two children together - Carl and Sarah, born in 1966 and 1970 respectively.

Bill's career in showbiz began when he started working as a nightclub singer and entertainer. Now known as William Piddington-Cleworth, Bill took on the stage name Tarmey for professional reasons. Singing remained Bill's first love even after his acting career took off and he released a number of albums, including A Gift of Love, Time for Love and After Hours in the '90s.

TV work for Bill began when he started picking up jobs as an extra on various productions, including Coronation Street. Bill was seen as a regular background character in the soap's iconic Rovers Return pub for a number of years, but his role as Jack Duckworth became more prominent in the 1980s when he was promoted to a regular cast member.

Bill Tarmey aka 'Jack Duckworth'

© Rex Features / ITV

Coronation Street sign

© ITV



Loveable rogue Jack went on to become one of the most popular characters in Coronation Street's history, and is famed for his love of pigeons, family troubles with wayward son Terry and his comedic on-screen partnership with wife Vera, played by Liz Dawn. Later years also saw him strike up a close relationship with Tyrone Dobbs, who became like a son to him.

Tarmey stuck with the cobbles after Dawn stood down as Vera due to ill health in 2007, but later announced his own departure in 2010. Subsequent press interviews saw Tarmey reveal that he left the soap to spend more time with son Carl, who had been diagnosed with a brain tumour.

Jack's exit scenes went on to become some of his most memorable and acclaimed as they saw the much-loved character reunited with late wife Vera, who returned as a ghost to meet him at his dying moments. The episode was praised by fans and also won the 'Best Exit' prize at the 2011 British Soap Awards.



After leaving Coronation Street, Tarmey became a Brain Tumour Research patron in support of son Carl. Meanwhile, just a few months ago, an online poll identified Jack as Corrie fans' favourite ever character.

The legendary soap actor passed away in Tenerife on November 9, 2012. He is survived by his wife Alma and their two children. Get the Inside Soap magazine on your iPhone or iPad

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