This is the the first in a series of posts looking at the lives and careers of the Coronation Street original cast. There will be 21 posts in all. We begin with Arthur Leslie who played Jack Walker.
First appeared: 14th December 1960
Last appeared: 24th June 1970
Arthur Leslie played the role of genial Rovers landlord Jack Walker between 1960 and 1970.
Born in Newark-on-Trent in Nottinghamshire in 1899, Arthur moved to Lancashire at an early age. He entered the acting world at the age of 15 and spent most of his career on the stage. He made his television debut in Knight Errant Limited in 1960.
It was in December 1960, that he won the part of 60 year old Jack Walker in new drama serial Coronation Street, a part that brought him national fame. Debuting in the second episode, Jack was a mainstay behind the Rovers bar throughout the 1960s, alongside snobbish wife Annie and various barmaids. He’s remembered for his gentle approach and his broad Lancashire accent that was a stark contrast to Annie’s delusions of grandeur. His storylines included taking in Lucille Hewitt as a ward; being falsely accused of having an affair with Elsie Tanner; being blackmailed by Frank Turner; being injured in a coach crash; and Annie leaving him when she suspected him of having a lady friend. Jack was an ordinary man and was at his happiest behind the Rovers bar serving the customers.
Arthur Leslie appeared in 799 episodes and ranked third as the actor who appeared most during the 1960s, behind Doris Speed (Annie Walker) and Patricia Phoenix (Elsie Tanner). But in June 1970, Arthur died from a sudden heart attack in Cardigan in mid Wales, six days after his last broadcasted episode. He was the first member of the main cast to pass away and indeed the first member of the original cast. Arthur was a firm favourite amongst the cast as was Jack with the viewers. Jack was quietly written out of the show with him passing away off-screen in Derby while visiting daughter Joan. His death was written in an episode only eight days after Arthur’s passing. Compare this to when Betty Driver died last year when there was a six month hiatus until her character Betty Williams was killed off. In respect to Arthur’s family, Jack’s death didn’t dominate the episode that was broadcast on the 8th of July. Although having passed away, Jack Walker’s presence remained in the Rovers through Annie’s memories and a photo of him was displayed on the mantelpiece in the back room until 1984.
Arthur had married Betty Powell in 1925 and their son Tony Broughton also entered the acting world and has had roles in Coronation Street, appearing in various roles between 1993 and 2008.
Did you ever meet or see Arthur Leslie? He toured Australia in the 1960s so maybe our Australian readers saw him? Do you have pieces of trivia about him?
Research from Corriepedia, IMDB and 40 years of Coronation Street by Daran Little.
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