Coronation Street‘s Bill Tarmey talks about his final episode and his 30 years as part of one of the Street’s most-loved couples, Jack and Vera…

We hear you’ve seen your final episode, what was your reaction when you saw Jack’s last moment on screen?
“It was delightful and very moving. Filming those scenes was difficult. I’ve worked with all these people for 30-odd years and it was impossible for me to act or watch the death scene and cut that off.”

Jack leaves us knowing that baby Jack is really Kevin’s baby…
”He is upset about it because he loves Molly and Ty dearly. He does want to tear Kevin’s head off and had he been a younger man, I suppose he might have done.
But Jack has seen too much of what happens in life when people stick their oar in, so he doesn’t meddle. He takes the secret to his grave.”

What do you remember of joining Coronation Street back in 1979?
“You go into the green room and it’s something else. There are all these icons from British TV. Liz Dawn came over and said, ‘Hiya, kid. How’re you feeling?’ I said, ‘Petrified.’ She said, ‘You’ll be alright. Don’t worry.’

Was there anything in particular that prompted your decision to leave?
“I did this television thing called Andy Prior’s Big Band Special. I was singing – that’s what I did before I started acting. I sat down to watch it with my wife Ali about 18 months ago and I said, ‘The music wasn’t bad, but I didn’t like that fat old guy who came on.’

“Unfortunately that was me and I thought, I never want to get to the stage where somebody mouths, ‘Why doesn’t that silly old fat bugger get off?’ Also, my breathing was getting a bit rough and after some tests, I found out how hard of hearing I was. I wanted to go a year earlier, but Ali and the producer persuaded me to stay for the 50th anniversary.”

You’ve been with Ali since you were both 14, what’s your secret?
“That’s not bad is it? When I was a kid, I used to think, ‘What the hell does she see in me, this rough as a bear’s a**e asphalter?’ I am borderline stupid.
At school the teacher said. ‘This boy’s wasting space’, but Ali came out with the equivalent of 11 A-Levels! Even my mother said, ‘I think she’s taking the mickey you know, lad.’ She’s very patient!”

So have you slipped into a new more relaxing routine since leaving the Street?
“I still get up at five o’clock every morning. I make my cup of tea, get my cigs and reach for my script… only now I haven’t got script. I still have Jack’s words going round in my head.”

Will we see you again in something else soon?
“I am basically lazy, I suppose. If a telly job came along, I would do it, as long as there’s no walking, no stairs, not too many words and a lot of money. Once upon a time, I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice to earn money while you’re asleep?’ and I managed it when they were selling albums I’d made on the other side of the world, while I was snoring my brains out. I did it once, so maybe I could manage it again.”

At the moment, you’re busy promoting your autobiography, Jack Duckworth and Me. How did the book come about?
“People were always saying, ‘Why don’t you write a book?’ But I didn’t like the idea of talking about people without their permission, so Ali suggested writing about things people don’t know about – such as my dad being killed in the war, working in the building trade. And that’s what I’ve done. A journalist friend of mine called Alan Hart put it into some semblance of order ,but they’re my words. At one point, I did say to Ali, ‘I’m bored, it’s all me, me, me.’ And she said ‘The book’s about you, you fool!'”

Any other plans for the future?
“I have never made plans. I feel like I am in a bus queue, a bus comes along and somebody pushes me on it and I think, ‘Where the hell is this going?’ And so far, the ride’s been fantastic.”

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