10. BET LYNCH (228 VOTES)
Duration: 1966, 1970-1995, 2002, 2003
Played by: Julie Goodyear
2012 character poll position (women): 7
Bet is not only the most famous barmaid of the Rovers Return, but in British soap history.
Hired by Billy Walker in 1970, Bet served behind the bar for 25 years, 10 of those as landlady. Following the footsteps of Elsie Tanner, she became the Street’s siren and her conquests include Len Fairclough, Mike Baldwin and Jack Duckworth.
While putting on a steel appearance in public, underneath it all lay a vulnerable woman. She had to give up her son Martin when she fell pregnant in her teenage years and was heartbroken when she heard that he died in action in Ireland in 1975. Many times she confided in fellow barmaid Betty Turpin about her fear of loneliness and how men used her.
After 17 years of trying to find a husband, she married Alec Gilroy. They became popular due to their sarcastic banter. In 1988, Bet fell pregnant but they united in grief when she suffered a miscarriage. When Alec’s granddaughter Vicky became an orphan, the Gilroys took her in and became her surrogate parents. Their marriage lasted five years, and ended when Bet refused to move to Southampton with Alec.
Famed for her beehive and leopard print coats, Bet continued behind the bar until 1995, when she went into debt. When Vicky and old friend Rita refused to lend her money, she left the cobbles.
Since her departure, she has made two comebacks. In 2002 she returned to wish Betty well on her retirement (which she didn’t) and attempted to make amends with Rita but no avail, and in 2003 when she helped out Jim and Liz McDonald and had a whirlwind romance with Cecil Newton. Cecil died of a heart attack before the wedding ceremony. Bet then returned to Brighton with Liz.
Were you a fan of Bet?
Deirdre: A Life on Coronation Street - official ITV tribute to a soap icon. Available here.
Follow the Bluenose CorrieBlog on Twitter and Facebook