Full name: John Harold Duckworth
Parents: Harry and Maggie Duckworth
Born: 7 December 1934 (or 1935) (or 7 November 1936)
Married: Vera Burton (18
April or 19 August 1957)
Children: Terry Duckworth,
b:4 June 1964 (m: Vera Duckworth)
Played by: Bill Tarmey
First appeared: 26 - 28 November 1979; 18 May 1981 -
Jack Duckworth first appeared in Coronation Street in November
1979, when his loudmouthed wife Vera
dragged him to Brian and Gail Tilsley's wedding, only to have
him sneak off to the British Legion at the first opportunity.
Two years later, he began appearing regularly in the Rovers.
In many ways, Jack was a spiritual son of Stan
Ogden, and it may be remarked that Jack turned up as Stan
began to fade from the limelight of the series. Jack held many
jobs over the years, like Stan, he had bought a house in Coronation
Street to make a stable home for his family, like Stan, he was
chronically work-shy, like Stan, and he had a long-suffering wife,
like Stan. However, it is a matter of record that Jack probably
suffered his wife as much as she suffered him.
Whilst living in rented digs in Inkerman Street, Jack and Vera were familiar faces
in Coronation Street, as Vera worked at Baldwin's Casuals and Jack drank in the
Rovers. Jack and Vera's relationship varied from adversarial to combatative, and
they always each seemed to be scheming to put one over on the other. Jack was
always on the lookout for the main chance to make some easy money, or to make
time with a pretty lass; even in his forties he viewed himself as a handsome devil
to all females, and made appearances in a disco suited alter ego named 'Vince
St Clair'. Although he was constantly seeking a bit of fun with a younger woman,
Vera seemed to be absolutlely starved for physical affection. Any attempts she
made to corner Jack always resulted in his either slipping away to the pub or
falling asleep. At one time Jack joined a dating agency in a false name; when
Vera got wind of this, she joined under a pseudonym as well and arranged for a
date with her own husband. When Jack turned up at the Rovers to pick up his date,
Vera gave him a nasty shock. In spite of all the rows, Jack and Vera managed to
stay together for decades, perhaps because all they had was each other. However,
they did once briefly separate and carried on extramarital relationships; Jack
with barmaid Bet Lynch, Vera with Rovers cellarman Fred
In 1983, the Duckworths' rented home in Inkerman Street was to
be demolished, and their landlord gave them £1,000 compensation.
Jack wanted to spend the money on a car, but Vera was having none
of it. At the time No9 Coronation Street was on the market, Chalkie Whitely and his family
having left for Australia, and Vera insisted that the money go
as a deposit. Residents of Coronation Street were shocked and
dismayed when Jack and Vera moved in, thinking it was the beginning
of the end of the neighbourhood. Vera wanted to have a stable
home for their son Terry, who
had returned home from the Paras. Jack was pleased when he found
that Chalkie Whitely's pigeons came with the house, and the seeds
of a long-lived hobby were sown.
In 1984, Jack lost his job as a cabbie when he was found guilty
of drunk driving. He anticipated an easy life on the dole, but
Vera bought Stan Ogden's old window-cleaning
round and sent him out to work. Jack didn't mind once he realized
how many lonely housewives lived on his round. He began a relationship
with Dulcie Froggat that would
outlast his window-cleaning career. About this time, Terry took
a job selling door-to-door and met up with Dulcie as well. Father
and son unknowingly carried on with Dulcie until her husband Ralph found out, and gave Jack a
thumping that was intended for Terry. But stranger things happened
to the Duckworths.
Muscular young Terry Duckworth proved popular with the ladies,
especially A-level student Andrea
Clayton, daughter of Harry
and Connie Clayton next door
at No11. When Andrea announced that she was pregnant with Terry's
child, Jack made the mistake of insinuating to Harry that his
daughter was a tart, and Harry thumped him in the Rovers. Rather
than let the unpleasant Duckworths have a hand in the raising
of her grandchild, Connie Clayton moved the family away and they
were never seen again. Not long afterwards, Terry ran off with
Linda Jackson - his 'best mate'
Jack gave up window-cleaning after a brief period to become cellarman at the Rovers.
It was as close to heaven as Jack was ever likely to get: a job that required
him to spend all day in the pub. He would remain at the Rovers for the next fifteen
years, trying Bet and Alec's
patience by avoiding as much work as possible, complaining of a bad back (another
interesting Stan Ogden parallel). Nonetheless, Jack proved to be reasonably honest
and loyal to his employers, most of the time. He probably realized that at fifty-plus
a new job would be hard to find, and so he accepted his lot and learned to get
on with his workmates, including the redoubtable Betty
Always on the lookout for a scam, Jack entered a contest in one
of Vera's womens' magazines. The object was to describe why your
husband was the husband of the year, and Jack took some licence
in writing 'My husband is husband of the year because right from
the start he has made my life one long honeymoon.' Jack's flowery
prose won the competition, but he had entered in Vera's name and
she claimed the prize: a new Vauxhall Nova. Jack expected Vera
to hand the car over to him, as she couldn't drive, but a determined
Vera signed up for lessons and passed her test. On their first
outing together in the car, Vera had an accident which left Jack
with a broken nose. He decided to make the most of it by suing
Vera's insurance company for compensation, but when they gave
him a cheque for £600, he had to turn it over to Vera, as
he didn't have a bank account. Vera saw to it that Jack didn't
see much of the money, using it to buy herself a new washing machine,
among other things.
The Duckworths' life was usually uneventful, scraping by, occasionally
having a little windfall but never really getting ahead, and usually
bickering with each other (much like the Ogdens in the seventies).
Jack was horrified when Vera's mother, Amy
Burton, landed on their door in the late 1980s and stayed
for a time, getting a job cleaning the Rovers after Hilda
Ogden left, but Amy was soon disgraced in the Street for stealing
from the Rovers and the corner shop, and so Vera bundled her mother
back to where she had come from. Jack heaved a big sigh of relief
and got back to living the life of Riley at home with Vera.
In 1988 college student Curly Watts
broke with his girlfriend Shirley Armitage and was thrown out
of the flat over the corner shop for not being able to pay his
rent. Jack and Vera took him in as a lodger, seeing him finish
college and start a promising career in management at Bettabuys
supermarket. Quiet Curly was often exasperated by Jack and Vera's
bickering and Vera's interfering nature, but there was true affection
between them and Jack looked on him as being the son he wished
Terry had been.
In 1990, Jack was fifty-five and disappointed with a life that
seemed to be going nowhere. In a vain attempt to recapture his
youth, he bought an old disassembled motorbike, similar to one
he'd had in the fifties, and set about restoring it. Vera quickly
grew sick of having grimy motorbike parts about the house and
ordered him to sell the bike. Jack flogged it to new neighbour
Jim McDonald for a bargain price.
Jim restored the bike beautifully, making Jack turn green with
envy. Jack nagged Jim into letting himself and Vera go for a quick
spin down memory lane on the newly-restored bike. Unfortunately,
the bike had no license, insurance or MoT, and Jack and Vera were
escorted home by the police. The policeman who lectured Jim and
Jack was so taken by the bike that he bought it from Jim for a
tidy sum, and inspired Jim to go into the motorbike repair business.
Jack was disappointed when he saw how much money Jim made on the
deal, and viewed it as just another case of Duckworth bad luck.
Perhaps the worst thing that happened to Jack around this time
was connected with Vera's mother's death in 1991. Although Jack
wasn't bothered by seeing the 'old ratbag' go, a complication
arose when after the funeral one of Vera's mother's friends, Joss Shackleton, convinced Vera
that he was her real father. Jack didn't believe the old man,
but Vera trusted him implicitly and moved him into No9, where
he made a great deal of fuss. Vera forced Curly out of his bed
to sleep on the settee and settled Joss in, giving him preferential
treatment. Curly moved to No7 to get a bed to sleep in, and Jack
lost his only ally in the household. His attempts to discredit
Joss were in vain, Vera wouldn't hear a word against her 'father'.
Joss did two important things for the Duckworths during his brief
stay at No9. First, he told Vera that his mother was the offspring
of an illicit fling between King Edward VII and a housemaid. Vera
believed the story and began putting on airs, fantasizing about
being royalty, much to Jack's exasperation. Second, Joss helped
Jack and Vera apply for positions as chauffeur and cook for a
wealthy couple in the country, the Maxwell-Glovers, by forging
references from nobility for them. This was originally a ploy
to get an expense-paid day in the country, but Jack and Vera were
surprised to be offered the job and considered taking it. At the
last minute Vera backed out, and their little scheme was unmasked
when the Maxwell-Glovers had a break-in and police visited Jack
and Vera. Vera panicked and told them about the dishonesty, and
they managed to avoid getting into trouble. Joss eventually returned
to his OAP flat, and he died not long after.
Jack got another brilliant get-rich-quick idea at about this time.
A problem with the water mains left their side of Coronation Street
without running water for a few days. Someone in the Duckworth
household left the bathroom taps on, and the water came back on
while Jack and Vera were out. The result: extensive flooding damage
to the house. Jack thought that they could pad their insurance
claim and make a killing, and Vera encouraged him to spend lavishly
on expensive wallpaper to redecorate. However, the insurance company
refused to believe that the flooding had caused so much damage,
and turned down Jack's claim. Vera was angry with him and blamed
him for their not getting any compensation.
Another moneymaking scam that Jack tried in the early nineties
was pallbearing. The trouble was that he had to get afternoons
off from working at the Rovers to do it, and did this by telling
boss Alec Gilroy that he was laid
up with a bad back. The plan backfired when Alec went to a funeral
that Jack was working at, and saw Jack helping to carry a coffin
when he was supposed to be at home immobilized by his trick back.
Alec chased Jack home and confronted him, and Jack nearly lost
his job out of it. Jack was fortunate to keep both his neck and
his job; Alec was ready to throttle him when he found out about
Jack's duplicity. After that, he decided to give up moonlighting.
In 1992, Terry returned for a visit with girlfriend Lisa
Horton. Lisa was from Blackpool, where her parents ran a bingo
hall. Although her parents were as working-class as Jack and Vera
at heart, they were snobs who disapproved of the Duckworths and
Coronation Street. Before leaving, Lisa revealed to Vera that
she was carrying Terry's baby.
A few months later, it all returned to haunt Jack and Vera again.
Lisa showed up to tell them that Terry was in prison for GBH.
Jack and Vera took her in, as Terry's trial was in Weatherfield.
While on remand, Terry was allowed out to marry Lisa. Just after
saying 'I do', he managed to get free and ran away, to be recaptured
a few days later. Lisa was left with a sour taste in her mouth,
believing that Terry had used the wedding as an excuse to escape.
Vera sided with her son, but Jack was beginning to see the truly
rotten side of Terry. In true Jack Duckworth fashion, Jack tried
to make the best of it by selling the photos to a newspaper for
£100. Terry was sentenced to three years; Lisa had baby
Tommy while staying with Jack
and Vera, but she soon tired of Terry's behaviour and left Jack
and Vera to return to her parents. Des
Barnes had meantime fallen in love with Lisa, and convinced
her to come back and start a new life with him, starting a feud
with Vera, who viewed her as a tramp who had abandoned her son
when he was in trouble. Jack saw both sides of the argument, and
knew that Terry would never be true to his family, but felt obliged
to stick with his wife in shunning Lisa. This didn't last long,
as Lisa was knocked down and killed by a car. Vera insisted on
paying for her funeral, and took in Tommy, giving up working to
care for him. Without Vera's wages, it became hard to make ends
meet, and Vera got into trouble for shoplifting and missing mortgage
payments. In the end, she sold her precious Vauxhall Nova to Emily Bishop as she was desperate
for money to keep Tommy fed and clothed.
While Tommy was still living with Jack and Vera, Vera saw a horse
named 'Tommy's Rattle' running in a race at long odds and, thinking
it a good omen, made Jack run straight out to the bookies' to
place a bet on it. Rolling his eyes, Jack complied with his wife's
wishes and placed the bet. While he was placing the bet, Des advised
him that the horse was good and he put a few pounds on it himself.
The horse came in at even longer odds than expected, and when
Vera found out, she took Jack's winnings from him, thinking that
he was holding out on her. It seemed that as long as Vera was
around, Jack could never win.
When Terry got out of prison after 18 months, he kidnapped Tommy
from his parents and sold him to Lisa's parents in Blackpool,
who desperately wanted to give Tommy a better upbringing than
they thought Jack and Vera could provide. Jack and Vera were bitterly
disappointed in Terry, and Jack hit his son and told him to never
return, but Jack heaved a sigh of relief as Vera could return
to work and alleviate some of their financial burden.
In 1995, Jack received a surprise inheritance of £30,000
from his brother Clifford,
who had been killed in a car crash whilst holidaying abroad. Jack
and Vera decided to try to change their lives with the inheritance,
and put No9 on the market to raise enough money to buy the licence
for the Rovers Return, which Newton & Ridley had put on the
market. They were in competition with Jim
and Liz McDonald from No11, but
when Gary and Judy
Mallett bought No9, Jack and Vera had the ready cash ahead of
the McDonalds, and moved down the street to run their own business.
As Jack had a criminal offence in his past, Vera was made the
licencee of the pub.
With a little money to spend, Jack splashed out on some nice clothes
and a new pair of specs to replace the ones he had had for years,
which were held together with tape. On a lads' trip to the races,
he also bought a share of a racehorse along with Don
Brennan, Alf Roberts and a
few other local men. They named the horse 'Betty's Hotshot' and
styled themselves as a syndicate, but the horse proved to be a
dud. Vera was furious with Jack for what he had done, but she
wasn't alone; all the wives of the men involved were furious.
Once again, Terry returned to Coronation Street, and was shocked
to find his parents running the Rovers. He hoped that he could
get some money out of it, but found that the business was reabsorbing
most of the takings and Jack and Vera were working hard with little
to spare. He sold Tommy to the Hortons for good, and Jack and
Vera wrote him out of their will, leaving all they had to Tommy.
Terry left after a one-night-stand with single mother Tricia
Armstrong, which left her pregnant. Jack and Vera took Tricia
and her 13-year-old son Jamie
in with them, and Tricia's baby was delivered prematurely by Betty Williams in the living room.
Tricia named the baby Brad,
and Jack and Vera felt that they had a family again. Young Jamie
loved Jack's pigeons, and Jack was very fond of the boy, viewing
him as a grandson as well.
After a time, Tricia began a relationship with decorator Ray
Thorpe, which quickly blossomed. Ray told her he loved her
and wanted her and the children to live with him. Tricia had never
had a man treat her well, and didn't know what to do. Vera opposed
Ray, thinking that her last grandchild would be taken away from
her, and was relieved when Terry turned up again, thinking that
he would reunite the family. Jack, however, knew that Terry would
never want to be tied down with Tricia and her children, and staying
at the Rovers wouldn't provide Tricia or the children with much
of a life. Terry kept his father's faith, and tried to make off
with the takings from the pub. It was all a trap arranged by Jack,
and Terry left in disgrace, this time apparently for good. Now
even Vera accepted that Terry would never be a son she could be
proud of, and the Duckworths disowned their only child. Tricia
took the children and moved in with Ray, and although Jamie was
sad to leave kindly Jack and his pigeons, everybody knew it was
for the best. Jack was seen at his most emotional bidding young
Jamie, Tricia and his tiny grandson Brad a tearful goodbye as
they moved across town to live in Ray's home.
At 60, Jack and Vera were too old to have the energy needed to
run a small business like the Rovers, and lacked the business
sense to manage the money. Andy McDonald
tried to help them sort out their books, but in 1997 they got
into trouble with VAT and were presented with a huge tax bill.
Jack was unable to raise the money to pay the bill, and so he
was forced to sell a half-share in the pub to Alec
Gilroy, who had returned from Southhampton and was at a loose
end after being made redundant from Sunliners Travel. Knowing
that Vera would fight with him over this, he did it behind her
back while she visited Tommy in Blackpool. An enraged Vera locked
both Jack and Alec out of the pub for a few days, but they managed
to get back in posing as draymen. Eventually, Vera saw that this
was the only way to save a part of the business for themselves,
and the Duckworths settled down into an awkward partnership with
The partnership was doomed to failure, however. Argument after
argument made all parties increasingly bilious. Jack had to try
to keep and uneasy peace between loud and suspicious Vera and
scheming Alec, who he didn't trust. Whenever Jack would come to
an understanding with Alec, Vera would shout the odds and spoil
things. Alec managed to buy out the remainder of the business
on the condition that Jack and Vera remained as employees residing
in the pub's living quarters while Alec stayed in his flat across
the street. At Christmas 1998 a massive row broke out when Jack
and Vera went to Blackpool to visit Tommy against Alec's wishes.
The Duckworths left, but Alec plotted to lock them out of the
pub, and threw their belongings into the yard in bin bags. Rita Sullivan got word to Jack and
Vera that this was happening, and they made it back before Alec
could lock them out. They barricaded themselves in the upstairs
living quarters of the Rovers for a few days, making life very
difficult for Alec. In the end, Alec had enough and, when Natalie Barnes offered to buy the
pub from him, he sold out to her and took off for Brighton to
help his granddaughter Victoria run a wine bar. With Alec gone,
Jack and Vera thought that things would return to normal and they
could go on living in the Rovers, but Natalie had other ideas.
She told them that they had to move out, as she had to either
let or sell her house, No6, to pay for the Rovers. The Duckworths
still had the £30,000 that Alec had paid for their remaining
share of the pub, and Vera wanted to buy another house, but shortsighted
Jack wanted to use the money to have a good time. Natalie had
ideas about making changes to the pub, including bringing in trendier
lines of drinks for the younger crowd. When Jack and Vera were
sarcastic towards the changes and started embarrassing Natalie
behind the bar, she demoted Jack to cellarman and Vera to cleaner.
Jack accepted this, but Vera fought with Natalie over it and resigned.
When Vera got drunk and engaged Natalie in a slanging match behind
the bar one evening, Natalie threw them out of the living quarters.
Jack and Vera moved to Eunice Gee's
bed and breakfast to contemplate their fate. After some argument,
Jack convinced Vera to apologise to Natalie and accept the job
as cleaner in the Rovers, making her see that at 62 it would be
hard for her to find another job.
Ever on the lookout for an opportunity, Jack got them an interview
for a position managing the bar and catering services at the Weatherfield
golf club. Jack thought they were in with a shout when they found
out that Mike Baldwin was on the
interview committee. However, Vera's loudmouthed nature amused
Mike and offended the uppity committee members, and Jack and Vera
resigned themselves to their working-class life.
Coronation Street: Around the Houses, by Daran Little,
Boxtree, London, 1997
Official Coronation Street website, Granada TV
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