Saturday, 23 August 2014

1980: Why Annie Walker Doesn't Like Pubs...

A nice little magazine article here from March 1980, featuring the wonderful Doris Speed, Mrs Walker of the Street.

Annie at that time, of course, was the landlady of the Rovers Return and held the place in great esteem - she regarded it as the hub of the local community, a place where customers could hopefully be taught better manners, and, of course, the building was also her home and housed many memories of her beloved late husband Jack.

Annie took great pride in the Rovers.

But the licensee's life was not one Doris Speed cared to contemplate in reality...

Back to 1980 for the facts...

Doris Speed - Coronation Street's Mrs Annie Walker, Britain's best-loved landlady - has a shocking confession: "I don't like pubs."

The sharp-tongued "boss" of the Rovers Return says: "I think I would have made a very bad landlady in real life. I've never drawn a pint. If I drink at all it's when I go out to dinner.

I NEVER go to pubs when I get off The Street's set in Manchester," says the real-life Doris.

"Arthur Leslie, who played my husband, and I were offered pubs by breweries who thought it would be a good idea.

"I think if he'd retired he'd have taken a pub - but this wouldn't appeal to me.

"If I do go to a restaurant I'd never perch on a bar stool, because somebody would either say 'Can I buy you a drink?' or would ask me to pull a pint.

"Mind you, very nice things do happen. I was having dinner with a woman friend and we had a sherry and a bottle of wine. I was the hostess and the time came for me to pay the bill.

"To my surprise, the waitress told us our drinks had already been paid for by a man who'd been eating elsewhere in the restaurant.

"He'd already left - without speaking to us - so we couldn't thank him. Now isn't that nice?"

To relax between recording the series, Doris plays bridge with other cast members.

She says: "I play with Johnny Briggs (The Street's factory boss, Mike Baldwin), Bill Roache (Ken Barlow) and Bernard Youens.

"Now, you'd never expect Stan Ogden to play bridge, would you?"

But some things must remain her private property, she says. She's unmarried and she lived with her mother until her death a few years ago.

Doris insists that the rest of her home life must not come under public scrutiny - and the same goes for her age.

She has been playing Annie now for almost twenty years [Andy's note: The Street would celebrate its twentieth anniversary in December 1980] and she's become fond of The Street's "Lady Muck".

"It's just the way Annie has developed - she's become a bit of a show-off. And possibly people believe that, if they talk to me, I'll be a bit like Annie - sharp.

"I like it, though, when Betty Turpin (played by Betty Driver) and Bet Lynch (that's Julie Goodyear) say things behind my back like 'Lady Muck'. They call me 'Barbara Cartland' too."

Her ambition is to be a successful stage actress.

"I'm quite good." she says, "but I don't get asked back. You have to give Granada six or eight weeks notice if you want to appear in something other than The Street - and most producers want you within a month.

"As for Annie, I think her ambition would still have been to be a landlady - but in a rather more exalted sphere. She'd love to have had a country pub, probably in Cheshire."

But that certainly isn't Doris' idea of the high life.


  1. Isn't it sad that when the papers revealed Doris' age that she left in 1983 - you could see here how important her privacy was to her. How long do you think she would've stayed otherwise? Till her death?

    1. Doris was such a private person, it's hard to know how long she might have stayed and exactly what all the issues were surrounding her departure. And, of course, she didn't make the decision to leave straight away. Annie finally gave up the Rovers some way into 1984. Annie was my all-time favourite Corrie character.