Coronation Street actress Liz Dawn's brilliance made 'our Vera' a TV legend

26 September 2017, 14:50

For fans of Coronation Street, it is for a second time we say goodbye to "our Vera".

In 2008, some 12.5m viewers tuned in to see Jack Duckworth find his wife lifeless in an armchair after she died in her sleep.

Soap lovers wept, a Corrie icon was gone.

In her 34 years on the show, Liz Dawn came to be adored.

From the public rows her character had with her husband, through to the dreams she had of moving to glamorous Blackpool, she was a favourite with Corrie fans.

:: Tributes to actress Liz Dawn, Corrie's Vera Duckworth

There was no body buried under the patio. No secret love child living next door.

Vera was poor, her life was tough and, over three decades, viewers endured it with her.

The story of a couple struggling to make their marriage work was drama enough.

"It's a lottery, is marriage," Vera said on the show. "No, you've got a chance on the lottery!" Jack quipped back.

Dawn was first seen on the cobbles in 1974, a much simpler time for soaps.

Back then they dominated British TV and storylines were allowed to play out at a much slower pace. It was social critique rather than a schedule filler.

We adored Vera because she spoke her mind. The drama came from her being ordinary. We held our breath as she confided in barmaid Bet Lynch that she knew Jack was having an affair, unaware that it was with Bet herself.

Soap bosses didn't have to rely on outrageous plot twists; what happened to Vera was believable.

Nowadays, writers seem convinced that the only way to address plummeting ratings is by penning increasingly outrageous plot twists.

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You've only got to look at EastEnders' current storylines - within the space of a week viewers had to wrap their heads around a gas explosion on Albert Square, a shooting, fire, shock death and surprise pregnancy.

Storylines are written for viewers with non-existent attention spans and actors are allowed little room for their characters to breathe.

Perhaps that's why Corrie's ratings now average around 7.8m. Soaps are no longer appointment-to-view TV and, out of desperation, they've become more and more ridiculous.

Liz Dawn's brilliance on the screen will ensure she's remembered as a Corrie great; the outpouring of affection for her is undeniable.

But as we look back on some of her best moments, there is also the nostalgia for a simpler time on our soaps.

Soap bosses please take note: viewers don't stick with a story for the fireworks and explosions, we're there for the humour, the warmth - and because we care about characters like "our Vera".

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