Peter Dudley


Real name: Peter Dudley
Born:
21 June 1935, Manchester
Died:
20 October 1983, Manchester

Played:

  1. Donald Anderson (27 February 1978)
  2. Bert Tilsley (29 January 1979 - 27 July 1983)

As a child Peter harboured a desire to become an actor, but after leaving school, he began his working life as a doffer in a local mill - but this job only lasted two days. He then took a job in a grocer's shop before he joined The Bolton Hippodrome where he stayed for six months. Peter then worked as a window dresser and a salesman before doing his national service with the army.

After the war, Peter returned to acting with the Oldham Repertory Company and at the University Theatre in Manchester. He also became a leading actor at Manchester's Library Theatre Company. He appeared in the movie The Ragman's Daughter as a lorry driver and on television in Siege of Golden Hill, Against The Crowd, Have Bird, Will Travel, Here I Stand, The Shabby Tiger, Strangers and Crown Court.

Peter became well-known in repertory before appearing as Bert Tilsley, and it was through this background that he found a champion in Pat Phoenix. After 4 bitparts in Coronation Street, first appearing as Duggie Bowson, then taking a role as a delivery man, another small role, then playing Donald Anderson in February 1978, he was eventually cast as Bert Tilsley.

On 29 January 1979 Peter joined the cast as a regular playing family man Bert alongside Lynne Perrie and Christopher Quinten. He was openly homosexual, but Manchester was not a friendly place for gays in the early 1980's during the reign of James Anderton, Chief Inspector of Greater Manchester Police. Even though the police had to use ladders to peer through the windows, in 1982 Peter was observed exposing himself to another man in a public toilet in Didsbury, and was charged with importuning. With commendable courage, Coronation Street Producer Bill Podmore stood by him and Peter continued to appear in the series. He was found guilty and fined £200.

However, Granada were not so sympathetic when Peter was charged with gross indecency some months later. Although he claimed he was not guilty and had been set up by the police, he realised he was in very serious trouble. He chose to go to Crown Court rather than a Magistates Court, which prolonged the affair and made it very public. The first jury failed to agree and the judge ordered a retrial. The strain on Peter became too much and he suffered a stroke, loosing much of the use of his left side, and briefly his speech. The retrial was postponed and the file kept open.

Peter spent time in physiotherapy and wanted to act again in the Street, so the storyline of Bert being injured in a compressor explosion in Brian's garage was devised. His disabilities were hidden, but it was clear Peter wasn't well. Before the second court case could be heard, Peter suffered two heart attacks and he died on 20 October 1983 after suffering another stroke, aged 48 years. He was cremated at Blakeley Crematorium, Manchester on 25 October 1983 and the cast turned out in full force to say their goodbyes.

Peter's other television appearances included Strangers, The Seige of Golden Hill, Against The Crowd, Shabby Tiger, A Raging Calm and Crown Court



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