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Patricia Phoenix -

Legendary ITV Coronation Street star buried in a Mersey cemetery

A legendary Coronation Street star was laid to rest in a cemetery in Crosby.

Patricia Phoenix first graced TV screens in 1960 as the iconic Elsie Tanner in Britain's longest-running soap opera. She was once described by then Prime Minster James Callaghan as "the sexiest woman on TV".

Pat's life mirrored that of her on-screen counterpart. Married three times, she was blunt, outspoken and a notorious chain smoker with a heart of gold.

Born in Manchester in 1923, she struggled to find mainstream success in her early career. It was during this time that her connection with Liverpool first started when she became entangled in an illicit affair with fellow actor and Crosby native Tony Booth in 1956.

Tony was married to his first wife Gale at the time - one of their daughters, Cherie, would go on to marry future Prime Minister Tony Blair. The romance ended when Tony moved to London while Pat stayed in the north and landed the role of Elsie on the Weatherfield cobbles at the age of 36.

After the affair ended, their respective careers blossomed with Pat cementing herself in soap opera history and Tony starring in the smash hit sit com Till Death Us Do Part. 25 years later, fate brought Pat and Tony back together again.

In 1979 Tony fell into a drum of paraffin while trying to climb into his flat, suffering 42% burns to his lower body. After six months in hospital, Tony was at an all-time low, he was out of work and living with his mum, Vera.

One night, while watching Pat on Coronation Street, Vera suggested that Tony should call her. Speaking to the ECHO in 2007, he said: “I was lost - my mother knew I’d had a relationship with Pat and said ‘She’s a very warm woman, maybe she can help you back into some kind of work. My mum virtually dragged me to the phone.

"Pat invited me over and was shocked at how I looked. I weighed only eight stone. We fell into each other’s arms and were inseparable from then on.”

The pair lived together for six years and she helped nurse Tony back to health. During their relationship, Pat was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1986. The couple married in Alexandra Hospital in Cheadle where Pat was being treated. Speaking about Pat, Tony said: "When we married, I didn’t know she was going to die I hoped she was going to get better. Pat knew. It was heartbreaking, but she wanted to die as my wife.”

She died a week later on September 17, 1986. Her remains were buried in St Peter and Paul cemetery on Liverpool Road in Crosby, where Tony grew up - and on the same plot as his parents.

Pat's character in Coronation Street was killed off-screen decades later in 2011, when Elsie was said to have died in a car accident. Many current soap actresses have portrayed Pat in various dramas depicting her life both on and off screen.

In total, Tony was married four times and fathered nine daughters including Cherie - who he stayed close with despite his criticism of her husband’s policies. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2004 and also had heart problems. He died in 2017 aged 85.


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