1935 - 2017
Roy Barraclough will be remembered for his comedy work with the late Les Dawson, especially for their Cissy and Ada routines and of course as Alec Gilroy, the landlord of the Rovers Return, Weatherfield rogue and and husband to the outrageous Bet Lynch in Coronation Street
Roy Barraclough MBE was born in Preston, Lancashire in 1935 where he also spent twelve years as a draughtsman in a preston engineering factory whilst also performing in local amateur dramatics,
The Preston-born actor made his debut appearance as Alec in 1972, but it wasn’t until 1975 that he became a more regular Corrie cast member. Alec and Bet were the ultimate odd couple and the pair quickly became icons of the cobbles, with their stormy marriage providing fertile ground for comedy writing. Alec’s miserly attitude was a perfect contrast to Bet’s lively outlook on life, and with his pompous and unscrupulous attitude, the pint-sized, chain-smoking talent agent could have easily been turned into a caricature. But Barraclough always grounded his character in the minutiae of everyday life.
However, the actor constantly had itchy feet to get back to stage work. For a couple of years, he was appeased when the Street’s producers allowed him eight weeks away from the studios. Then, in 1992, Barraclough decided to call time on his run in the soap. He was back briefly three years later before returning full-time for another three-year run (1996-98).
Roy fell in love with the theatre through visits to Preston’s Royal Hippodrome and Blackpool’s Grand. During 12 years of working as a draughtsman at a Preston engineering factory he acted with local amateur dramatics groups in his spare time and spent a summer as a holiday-camp entertainer on the Isle of Wight.
In 1962, he turned professional by joining the repertory company at the New Theatre, Huddersfield, as stage manager, and within two weeks was acting. He sometimes played the piano, too, most notably accompanying the comedy star Hylda Baker. He moved on to the Victoria theatre, Stoke, where he was upset by poor reviews of his performance as Falstaff in Henry IV, but one of his contemporaries, Ben Kingsley, encouraged him to carry on. In 1966, Barraclough joined the company at Oldham Coliseum theatre, performing alongside Knox and Goodyear, who had both already made brief appearances in Coronation Street.
TV beckoned, with bit parts in the Manchester-based Granada Television series City ’68 (1967), The War of Darkie Pilbeam, Gazette and Tom Grattan’s War (all 1968). Then came the regular role of Harry Everitt, the scruffy husband of Lorna (played by Kathy Staff), in Castle Haven (1969), an ITV daytime serial about the residents of flats in two large Victorian houses in a Yorkshire coastal town
Both comedy and drama roles followed on screen. He played Frank Wilgoose, the lodger of a feuding married couple, in the sitcom The More We Are Together (1971), and gained a legion of young fans in the children’s series Pardon My Genie (1972-73) as Mr Cobbledick, owner of a hardware shop where the polishing of an old watering can released a 4,000-year-old genie (played first by Hugh Paddick, then Arthur White).
An even bigger audience saw him alongside Dawson. He joined the comedian in 1972 for the fourth series of Sez Lez, when their Cissie Braithwaite and Ada Shufflebotham characters emanated from an impromptu performance they did while waiting to record a sketch, based on their shared love of the variety performer Norman Evans’s Fanny Fairbottom routine. Barraclough fashioned Cissie as the more refined of the pair, influenced by an aunt of his “who always thought she was slightly above the rest of the family”. Together, they “mee-mawed” (mouthed words) and adjusted their bosoms. Sir Ian McKellen rated the pair the 10th best drag act ever. The partnership with Dawson continued until the comedian’s sudden death in 1993.
Later TV parts included the corrupt Blackpool mayor Onan Van Kneck in the comedy-thriller serial Funland (2005) and the Reverend Barticle in All the Small Things (2009), the writer Debbie Horsfield’s drama about a church choir. He enjoyed a short run in Last Tango in Halifax as Maurice (2012-13), the lifelong friend of Derek Jacobi’s septuagenarian enjoying a twilight-years romance, which was ended by his character’s death. He also had a cameo as himself in the 2002 film 24-Hour Party People.
In 2006 Barraclough was appointed MBE for his services to drama and charity work, and last year he took the role of senior menswear salesman Mr Grainger in the BBC’s one-off revival of Are You Being Served?
The episode of Coronaton Street broadcast on ITV on 1st June 2017 was dedicated to Roy
His panto appearances included:
1962 - Cinderella - The Palace Theatre Blackburn
1963 - Aladdin - The Palace Theatre Blackburn
1964 - Babes in the Wood - Huddersfied
1966 - Cinderella - Oldham Coliseum
1967 - Aladdin - Oldham Coliseum
1968 - Robinson Crusoe - Oldham Coliseum
1973 - Jack and the Beanstalk - Oldham Coliseum
1974 - Robinson Crusoe - Oldham Coliseum
1975 - Cinderella - Oldham Coliseum
1978 - Babes in the Wood - Bradford Alhambra
1979 - Cinderella -Theatre Royal Norwich
1980 - Emu in Pantoland - Kings Theatre Southsea
1981 - Emu in Pantoland - Blackpool Grand
1982 - Jack and the Beanstalk - Davenport Theatre
1983 - Aladdin - Blackpool Grand
1984 - Cinderella - Swansea Grand
1985 - Aladdin - Davenport Theatre & Theatre Royal Nottingham
1986 - Babes in the Wood - Dartford Orchard Theatre
1992 - Mother Goose - Wolverhampton Grand
1994 - Aladdin - Alhambra Bradford
1995 - Aladdin - Palace Theatre Manchester
2005 - Santa Cluas and Jack Frost - Mayflower Theatre Southampton
2006 - Santa Claus - Liverpool Empire
2007 - Santa Claus - Alexandra Theatre Birmingham
2009 - Santa Claus - The Mayflower Theatre Southampton
''So thrilled to have known and worked with truly wonderful Roy Barraclough miss you so much Roy''
- Sherrie Hewson
''So sad to hear about the loss of Roy Barraclough. Such a naturally funny and lovely man. Many happy memories''
- Denise Welch
''My dearest friend Roy Barraclough has passed away, I have no words to describe how devastated I feel. I will treasure the happy times we had working together''
- Julie Goodyear
“Very sad to hear Roy Barraclough has died. He was the Narrator on my Corrie play on tour and was such fun. And had the BEST gossip. RIP''
- Johnathan Harvey
''So sorry to say We've lost another brilliant comic actor''
- Roy Chubby Brown
''RIP Roy Barraclough, Loved him''
''Very sad to hear the wonderful Roy Barraclough has died. A gentle, unassuming, incredibly funny man whom I was privileged to direct''
- Mark Gatiss