Saturday, October 15, 2011

So farewell then Betty Driver

Betty Driver - best known as Betty Turpin from Coronation Street - has died at the age of 91.

She had a long life and a long show business career, but it still seems extraordinary that she was thrown off George Formby's first film Boots! Boots!

Matthew Sweet tells the story in his Shepperton Babylon:
A teenage dancer named Betty Driver - who would later spend decades on Coronation Street, preparing hotpot for the regulars of the Rovers Return - was also booked for the picture, and became the first casualty of Beryl Formby's jealousy. Her rapport with George was too convincing for Beryl's taste: she pressured Blakely [the producer] to cut Driver's scenes from the picture.
The film was reissued on DVD (apparently it is one for Formby completists only) with those scenes restored.

Betty Driver's heyday was the years immediately after World War II when she had her own shows on radio and television. The clip above, taken from a 1938 film, suggests she was a performer very much in the Gracie Fields mould.

There is an obituary of her on the BBC website, but you get the best picture of Betty Driver and her career from her recent appearance on Desert Island Discs.


Anonymous said...

According to Wikipedia she was born at Prebend Nursing Home in Leicester.

A chance for someone to find out where that was (in Prebend Street, I assume), and campaign for a plaque to be erected?

Wartime Housewife said...

I heard that Desert Island Discs episode - what a completely inspirational woman she was. We could do with an awful lot more people with her cheery disposition and fortitude. Do we know what she died of?

Frank Little said...

I think she may also have been one of the Three Semis on BBC Northern Region Children's Hour with Muriel Levy and Violet Carson.

Frank Little said...

A correction: though Betty Driver was a regular contributor to Children's Hour, the other member of the Three Semis with Levy and Carson was Doris Campbell. Thanks to the release of the Radio Times archive for putting me right: