After the First World War, Albert married Bessie Vickery and they had a daughter, Beattie. Albert grew old in Coronation Street, becoming almost a part of the fixtures and fittings, and a close friend of other long-term residents including Ena Sharples, Annie Walker and the Barlows.
Albert retired from his job at the Town Hall in 1960, nearly a year after Bessie's death. He lived alone but was close to his niece Valerie, particularly when she moved to the Street and married Ken Barlow. After Val's sudden death in 1971, Albert maintained a close familial, almost paternal, relationship with Ken, who eventually moved into No.1. Albert died in his sleep in 1984 while visiting Beattie.
Albert was a proud and obstinate man. He was happiest when reminiscing about the past, but he had a crusty exterior and whatever social graces he had were eroded over time. He often expressed his disenchantment with modern ways and the younger generation, and said he wondered what he'd fought for during the First World War. Often subjecting family and friends to grumpy tirades about the hardships pensioners faced, he was a man people cared about in spite of himself.
1895-1919: Albert's best yearsEdit
Albert Tatlock was born in Weatherfield in 1895 and educated at Bessie Street School. His parents William and Emmeline died from tuberculosis in 1906, by which time Albert was old enough to work and had a job at Hardcastle's Mill, where he earned enough to pay the rent at their lodgings in Rosamund Street and support his younger brother Alfred.
Albert was one of the first to sign up for the Lancashire Fusiliers when war came in 1914. Albert left Alfred with their aunt Mary Osbourne and her husband Thomas at 1 Coronation Street. Mary had taken on partial responsibility for the lads after her brother's death and had seen that they had a proper meal once a week.
Albert spent a year in training at Bury before leaving for France. It was there that he met Bessie Vickery, under-maid at a household there, while out on a walk. They wrote to each other throughout the war.
Shortly before his departure, Dinky Low, who was leaving with Albert, tried to set him up with his friend Ena Schofield and asked Ena to write to Albert. Ena agreed, and they maintained correspondence, with Albert staying with Ena and her family during his leave. This led to gossip about their relationship. Although Albert cared about Ena enough to eventually ask her if they could become a couple, Ena declined, saying she was still grieving the loss of her fiance, Phil Moss. Albert took this to mean she did not care for him and was being polite.
Albert entered the war eager for action, won over by tales of heroism and glory on the battlefield. Instead he joined thousands of his brethren in the trenches, along with his friends from Weatherfield Dinky Low and Clarrie Ross. Albert saw very little action until his unit was ordered over the top on 1st July 1916. As the men charged across no man's land and into the Kaiser's machine guns, Clarrie and Albert were hit. Albert stayed with Clarrie until he died and then sought refuge in a shell hole, where he had a wounded French soldier for company. At nightfall, the Frenchman having died, Albert made his way back to camp, and carried an injured Sergeant whom he found slumped on the ground to safety where his own thigh injury was attended to. Albert was left with a piece of shrapnel in his leg.
Albert returned to action a Lance Corporal and went on to win the Military Medal for saving the lives of two soldiers at Flers Courcelette, but was unable to help a fellow Weatherfield man Archie Sykes who died slowly from blood loss after being impaled on barbed wire and having his leg blown off, as enemy gunfire prevented Albert from coming to his aid. Outside of his undoubted heroism on the battlefield, Albert did his fair share of skiving as well, once losing a group of deserters he was supposed to be guarding, with the omission not being noticed for two weeks. He also did a stint as an orderly in the kitchen, pinching some of the foodstuffs to sell it at profit.
Nevertheless, the early glamour of war had turned into a brutal reality for Albert. One consolation was his correspondence with Bessie Vickery; while still at the front, he proposed to Bessie by letter. Bessie wrote back accepting, and they agreed to marry when the war ended, which it did on 11th November 1918.
Albert and Dinky returned home as heroes but while Albert's sweetheart awaited him, Dinky's wife Madge, whom he had married while on leave (with Albert as best man), had died from internal bleeding three days after giving birth to their stillborn baby. Dinky arranged for Albert and Bessie to have the tenancy of No.1 when they were married.
1919-1960: Family manEdit
After the war, Albert returned to his old job at Hardcastle's Mill and the following year Bessie joined him there.
The war had changed Albert. As with many young men who had been to war, he was old before his time and still haunted by images of his friends dying. Bessie got used to comforting him in his sleep but when awake he put on a show of strength.
In 1921, Alfred returned from Liverpool and moved in with Albert and Bessie. He soon married Rovers Return barmaid Edna Ellis and for a while two Tatlock families battled for living space in No.1. Alfred left in 1924 after the deaths of Edna and their daughter Joyce from scarlet fever. In 1929, Albert left the mill for a job at the local print works. Beattie lost her job when the mill closed down in 1931 and at first Albert thought they could manage on his wages but the Depression was to hit the Tatlocks further.
In 1933, Bessie gave birth to their daughter, whom they named Beatrice. Albert didn't see much of Beattie as he lost his job at the print works soon after she was born and, determined not to draw dole, travelled as far as Wigan looking for work. He was away from home for months at a time and sent Bessie whatever money he made. Eventually he found work as manager of a print works, but in 1935 that too closed down and he reluctantly signed on for the first time. His unemployment lasted until March 1937 when he was taken on as a clerk in the housing department at the Town Hall.
When Britain declared war on Germany, Albert was very upset when he was declined military service due to his age. He became an ARP warden, but was then thrilled at the prospect of joining a volunteer army... only to be told that he could not because of his ARP duties. Albert dutifully performed his role throughout the war, only stopping after he suffered a broken leg from being hit by Leonard Swindley's car.
For the duration of the war, Beattie was in Blackpool. Albert privately coped with the rejection of his daughter, leading his wife to mistakenly believe Albert did not miss her. At one point Beattie's carer in Blackpool became so attached to Beattie that she tried to get the Tatlocks to let her adopt Beattie, but after Albert and Bessie contacted authorities, the carer changed her mind. Missing such pivotal years of Beattie's life was hard for Albert and when she returned after the war their relationship was never the same. Beattie didn't want to rot in Coronation Street as her parents had and saved her earnings from Miami Modes, intending to put it towards a house. In 1953, she pushed Norman Pearson into marriage and left the Street for Oakhill.
Albert and Bessie were looking forward to their retirement but in 1959 Bessie died in her sleep. In 1960, nearly a year after his wife's death and now aged sixty-five, Albert went through with his plan to retire and drew his pension; a paltry amount to live on, especially for an old soldier.
1960-1970: The elder statesman of WeatherfieldEdit
In January 1961, Albert had a fall in his kitchen which required Ken and David Barlow to break into No.1 and help him. Dr. Tinsley made a house call and recommended that Albert have someone looking after him. Beattie was summoned and offered Albert a room at her house but Albert turned down the invitation as he knew she was only offering out of duty and he felt too old to start again somewhere new.
Albert was in fact closer to his niece Valerie than to Beattie. When Valerie came to stay with him and began dating Ken Barlow, Albert encouraged them and was delighted when the pair got married in 1962.
In retirement, Albert stayed active within the community and took on occasional work to supplement his pension. In 1961, he spent three months working as caretaker at the Glad Tidings Mission Hall before giving it up, finding it too hard. The following year, he got a job as a school crossing warden and befriended schoolgirl Susan Schofield. When he became aware that Susan's father Jim was violent to her, he confronted the man and threatened him with the police if he went on hitting Susan. Jim nearly hit Albert but Harry Hewitt sorted him out.
In 1965, Albert went for stay with Beattie for an extended period and arranged for Clara Midgeley to keep house for him. Clara fell for Albert and tricked him into agreeing to go to Cleveleys with her to help run her niece's hotel. Having no romantic interest in Clara, Albert tried to avoid her, however the determined pensioner managed to corner him and propose marriage, for companionship. Albert let her down gently by saying he was too set in his ways to marry again, and they parted ways.
Albert was always looking for ways to cut his cost of living. In 1967, he, Ena and Minnie Caldwell started bulk-buying, and the year after this he took a live-in assistant job at the Fusiliers' Museum in Bury, working for his old friend Harry Dunscombe. Effie Spicer looked after No.1 while Albert was in Bury, although she left abruptly when Albert increased her rent to recoup the costs of her surprise redecorations, which he'd hated. When back in the Street on a break from Bury, Albert stayed at No.3, getting Audrey Fleming to look after him. Audrey found Albert too demanding and tried to match-make him and Alice Pickins to improve his mood. Alice fell for Albert but her feelings weren't reciprocated; Albert escaped her through the Rovers toilet window and returned to Bury.
When Effie walked out of No.1, Alice took over the job and resumed her campaign to wear Albert down. Albert was unhappy about her living at No.1 and threw her out but allowed her to move back in when the residents boycotted a museum visit he'd arranged. On Ena's advice, Alice surprised Albert at the museum, giving him such a shock that he fell off a box on which he was standing (as he was in the middle of giving a lecture) and was confined to bed with broken ribs and arm. He grudgingly let Alice tend to him as resident nurse as he preferred it to recuperating in hospital.
Albert found himself warming to the idea of marrying Alice, for practical reasons. He proposed and Alice immediately accepted. The wedding preparations moved apace; Albert met Alice's son Douglas Pickins, Beattie gave Alice her approval, and the church was booked. On his stag night, Albert got drunk and sang "If I Ruled The World" in Burton Road. The wedding party and guests arrived at the church on time but Reverend Vernon Lingard was delayed getting there, so the reception was held first. For Alice and Albert it was a bad omen - they weren't in love, so perhaps this extra chance to reconsider whether to marry was a sign that they weren't meant to be together. The reverend did eventually arrive but Alice and Albert had decided to call off the wedding, after which they parted amicably.
1971-1984: Uncle Albert vs. the WorldEdit
In 1971, Ken took a teaching job in Jamaica and the Barlows prepared to emigrate. On the night before their departure, Valerie died in an accident at the Barlows' maisonette, and a distraught Ken decided to stay in the country. Albert took Valerie's death very hard and maintained a close relationship with Ken, at least for Ken and Val's twins Peter and Susan's sake.
In 1972, Albert let Ken lodge at No.1 although he was unhappy at the fact that Ken had given up the idea of raising the twins alone and sent them to live in Scotland with Val's parents. Nevertheless, he was grateful for Ken's company, and help with the rent. In 1973 Ken married Janet Reid and moved into No.11, and Albert felt the pinch again. He gained employment as co-caretaker at the Community Centre, under Ena Sharples, and suggested to Minnie Caldwell that they marry for financial reasons, believing that two could live cheaper together than independently. Minnie agreed but after a long engagement, she began to tire of Albert and pressed him to set a date. When Ena got wind of the engagement, she advised Minnie that they would in fact earn less as a couple. Minnie was glad to have a reason to break the engagement - Albert's habits were beginning to grate on her - and they resumed their bickering.
Albert turned eighty in August 1975, which the residents marked with a surprise Street party. To Albert's delight, they had contacted his old regiment, who sent along a bugler, and two former soldiers, Fred Brigginshaw and Walter Crombie, came along to see him. He remained proud of his war record, and took a dim view of Minnie's friend Handel Gartside when he found out he was a conscientious objector, even going as far as to refuse to let Handel in his house at one point. In 1980, Albert sold his Military Medal to go to London for Remembrance Day, to pay tribute to his war friend Monty Shawcross. When Ken saw how upset Albert was that he no longer had his Medal, he bought it back for him.
In 1976, Ken prepared to leave the area when his job as Community Development Officer came under scrutiny due to him living with Wendy Nightingale, a married woman. Albert disapproved of the relationship but offered Ken his old room at No.1 when he was looking for lodgings. Ken discovered to his horror that the electricity at No.1 had been cut off two weeks ago but that Albert had been too proud to tell friends that he was having problems. Albert also faced having his allotment taken away by the council, as they felt he was too old to maintain it. Ken decided to take Albert up on his offer of lodgings so that he could look after him and arranged for the residents to help Albert out at the allotment so that he could keep it.
For all their arguments, Ken and Albert had a close relationship. In 1981, Ken married Deirdre Langton and planned to leave No.1, as she thought the house was small and old-fashioned. Albert was upset at the thought of being left alone, as Beattie only visited him a few times a year. He offered to move into the front parlour so that Deirdre's daughter Tracy could have his old bedroom. Ken felt an obligation to look after Albert and agreed to stay in the house, but the issue came up again in 1983 when Ken and Deirdre reconciled after Deirdre's affair with Mike Baldwin, and they decided on a fresh start somewhere new. Ken offered to buy No.1 from Albert, with the living arrangements continuing as they were. Albert accepted.
Albert was shaped by his experiences during the war. He remained an old soldier until the end, although his war recollections were mostly about the people he had met rather than his own experiences or the glory of victory. In fact, Albert was non-violent and turned over his gun in 1920 after shooting a dog in the ginnel as it prepared to bite Ned Crapper.
By the time of Bessie Tatlock's death in 1960, Albert was a cornerstone of the community; a champion of old-fashioned values, but in a diplomatic, mild-mannered way unlike the more forceful personalities such as Ena Sharples. This changed as Albert grew older; while Ena mellowed, Albert became grumpier, his social graces ebbed away by hardship. He was often seen as being miserable or even rude, particularly when dealing with Corner Shop or Rovers Return staff, although he was not usually taken seriously and his grumblings were more often a source of amusement.
Albert cared a lot about his extended family of Val, Ken and the twins but he was also a somewhat isolated figure; he lived alone and fought off most attempts by women to make an honest man of him. By the residents, he was generally seen as a grump at best and an irritant at worst. He could usually be found nursing a rum in the Rovers or sitting in his chair at No.1.
Role in the communityEditDespite his advancing years, Albert was very active in the community in Coronation Street, acting as Chairman of the Over 60s Club in 1961, organising an Over 60s bazaar in 1964 and a trip to the Preston Guild in 1972.
In 1962, he formed the Mission Hall Players, through which the residents performed in pantomime in Lady Lawson Loses in the Mission, with Albert himself playing the role of Manders. Almost without exception, Albert participated in subsequent plays performed in the Mission and Community Centre, playing Baron Hardup (panto), the Genie (Aladdin), and Baron (Cinderella), as well as Rob Wilton in a 40s show in the Rovers and reciting "The Girl I Kissed on the Stairs" at a Christmas concert.
Having worked at the Town Hall, Albert was also pressed into action by the residents for several causes, including investigating the possibility of Coronation Street being demolished. He also started a petition to stop the street being renamed. Albert also served the community by working as Caretaker at the Mission after Ena Sharples lost the job in 1961, even though the job required him to move out of his beloved No.1 and into the Mission vestry. He later gave up the job and suggested that Ena be given her job back.
Albert's daughter Beattie Pearson was an infrequent guest at No.1 but father and daughter were poles apart personality-wise. Beattie lived in a nice house in Oakhill and, having been pleased to escape from Coronation Street, didn't understand why Albert chose to remain there after Bessie's death when she had offered to have him live with her and her family. Albert thought that Beattie was only doing her duty as his daughter by offering and didn't really want him around, and even if she did, he wouldn't feel at home there and they would end up falling out.
Beattie liked to think of herself as the perfect daughter to Albert; she made up for her rare visits by being overprotective of him when she was around. In 1973, she bullied Jerry Booth into paying compensation when Albert was gassed by a faulty copper pipe which Jerry had fitted. Albert had insisted on not being compensated as he just wanted to forget about it.
Albert's neighbours in Coronation Street were the Barlow family. Both Ken and David Barlow were frequent visitors at No.1, with Ken in particular seeking solace in Albert's house when he needed to get away from family pressures. Albert couldn't have been happier when Ken married his niece Valerie. After a while, Ken even started to call Albert "Uncle Albert" as Val did. Albert thought of the Barlows as his extended family, and was upset when David married Irma Ogden while he was away, as he hadn't wanted to miss the wedding.
Ken lived with Albert for periods during the 1970s and from 1976 onwards. As Ken tried to forge a new life after Val's death, Albert was very critical of his decisions, especially those relating to his love life, as he didn't think any girl was worthy of following Val. He eventually gave his approval of Ken's overnight marriage to Janet Reid, and he was upset when they separated. It took a long time for Albert to warm to Deirdre Langton, as he resented the fact that she had a daughter from a previous marriage who Ken was spending more time with than his own children, however he later changed his mind and encouraged them to live at No.1 when they got married.
Even over those of his own father Frank Barlow, Ken recalls Albert's words when he recounts the fatherly advice he received in the past. Albert was Peter Barlow's godfather, and Ken's second son Daniel Osbourne was given the middle name Albert. A photograph of Albert remains on the mantelpiece at No.1.
Albert's closest friends in Coronation Street were Rovers landlady Annie Walker and landlord Jack, Mission caretaker Ena Sharples and one-time fiance Minnie Caldwell. All four friendships lasted decades and they were among the few people who indulged Albert when he was on a tirade.
Hobbies and interestsEdit
Albert's main topics of conversation were the war and his allotment. He enjoyed nothing more than talking about old times and especially old battles. In 1968, when he believed the author of a book about the Battle of Lys got his facts wrong, he planned to expose him, until it was discovered that Albert had got lost while out on patrol and missed the battle himself. In 1971, BBC Manchester interviewed Albert about the war. The interviewer, Alex Palmer, was primarily interested in plants on regimental badges but Albert - wearing his old war uniform - ignored Alex's questions entirely and talked about his experiences on the battlefield instead, and comrades he had fought with, despite Alex and Alf Roberts's attempts to moderate him.
Albert's allotment provided something to do in his later years. When he feared the Council was going to take it off him, the neighbours agreed to help out, although he was furious when Ray Langton carved "Albert rules OK" into his marrow. In 1978, salad from his allotment was the cause of a sickness in the street when it was sold at the Corner Shop.
Albert was also a fan of football and cricket, and hoped to go see the West Indies team play. In 1972, he helped Ken Barlow train the Bessie Street School team before their match against Regent's Road, and lectured Ken at some length about game strategies. Albert believed that formation was the key to winning a game.
- At a fancy dress party in the Glad Tidings Mission Hall in 1966, Albert dressed up as Father Christmas. At the time he had just finished a stint as Santa at Gale and Gordons so he could re-use the costume.
- In 1975, Albert had an operation to have a piece of sharpnel removed from his bottom.
- After overhearing Albert talking about the war in the Rovers, Mike Baldwin decided to call his denim shop the Western Front, and coaxed Albert into modelling a denim suit to promote the shop.
- In 1976, Albert had a dispute when he won money at the bingo with Bertha Lumley, as she didn't share her winnings with him despite their agreement. Albert was threatened by Bertha's husband Nat, so he decided to leave well alone.
- Albert first visited the Rovers Return Inn on a pub crawl in 1919. His regular at the pub was a rum.
- In 1963, Albert was fined £5 for knocking a policeman's helmet off while drunk. The Rovers regulars organised a kitty to pay Albert's fine as he couldn't afford it.
- In 2008, Ken remarked that Deirdre's mother Blanche Hunt was becoming more like Albert every day. Like Albert, Blanche lived in the front parlour at No.1 and was frequently grumpy.
- In the 2010 DVD Spin-off Coronation Street: A Knight's Tale a castle named Tatlock Towers appears, with a monster named 'Old Albert' apparently living in the lake, an obvious nod to Albert Tatlock himself.
- Albert's Medal further featured in a July 2014 storyline, when Tracy Barlow sold it again. Deirdre was furious and demanded she get it back or she would kick her out of No.1.
Creation and castingEdit
Albert first appeared in Episode 1, and was the eldest of the original twenty-one main characters created by Tony Warren in 1960. He was created when Warren was prompted by his bosses at Granada Television - on receipt of his first draft script of the episode - to add a character of "age, charm and distinction". About this request, Warren would later remark (without regret): "I've never been very good at following instructions as specific as that!" (Coronation Street: The First Twenty Five Years)
In the dry run of Episode 1, Albert was played by Victor Tandy. Further casting took place when the programme was commissioned. Jack Howarth was eventually cast, after the actor made his agent aware of his interest in the new serial. Howarth - a veteran of theatre and radio and owner of his own repertory company - had previously played Maggs in Mrs Dale's Diary for fourteen years on radio, a part which has been described as "a forerunner of Albert" (Life in the Street (Graeme Kay, 1991)).
Although generally known for his crabbiness and complaining, this element of Albert's persona took some years to come to the fore. In early episodes, Albert's characterisation was more in line with the charming old man requested by Granada (in Episode 15, Elsie Tanner describes Albert as a "real old gentleman" without hint of irony).
Howarth was the second longest-serving member of the original cast after William Roache. In his 1981 book The Street Where I Live, producer H.V. Kershaw refers to Albert as a 'lamppost' figure, "a part of the scenery of such streets who earn their keep by being there."
As well as their close working relationship on Coronation Street, Howarth and William Roache had another connection as Howarth's son John went to boarding school with Roache. In 50 Years of Coronation Street (Tim Randall, 2010), Roache praises Howarth's portrayal of Albert, particularly his comic timing: "Albert was a slightly gruff, eccentric, little potato-shaped man, and in some ways his character was a forerunner of Blanche, in that the rest of us would work really hard on a scene and then Jack would have one line at the end and completely steal it."
Bill Podmore produced Coronation Street from 1976 to 1982, stepping down just over a year before Howarth made his final appearance as Albert. In his 1990 book Coronation Street: The Inside Story, Podmore commented on the similarity between character and actor: "Jack's colourful character blended in so well with Albert Tatlock's that it would have taken an expert to spot the difference. On the face of it, only Albert's false moustache told them apart. Why Jack didn't just grow one, I never discovered. Perhaps popping a touch of glue on his upper lip was easier than trimming the real thing." He goes on to say, about Albert's character and that of Percy Sugden: "Percy is as prickly and abrasive as old Albert was tetchy, there is just enough similarity to make the comparison. But there it stops. Both took on the job of a school crossing patrol, but whereas for Albert it was merely a job for an old man trying to eke out his pension, for Percy the uniform is a battle-dress and the pole a badge of pride. They even view the wars in quite contrasting ways. Albert rarely confessed the courage which won his chest of medals, while Monty would surely have lost his desert campaigns without the bold Percy at his side."
Albert Tatlock became such a well known icon that his name was the 'chant' to the 1979 'TV Stars' song by punk band 'The Skids'.
Jack Howarth died of kidney failure aged 88 on 31st March 1984. In his last few months in the Street, Howarth had difficulty with his speech and his lines were sometimes repeated by other characters for the benefit of the audience. His last appearance was in 23rd January 1984 on 23rd January 1984.
First and last linesEdit
"I know it's no use asking you to take an interest in my collection, but if I didn't have these and the Choral Society, there'd be nowt for me but to go down to that reading room with all the other old ruins. Hey, I were down changing me library book the other day and I popped in for a minute. Hee, I had to come out. Got on top of me. Nowt but snuffling and turning pages over. I felt like shouting out 'Get yousels out of here. You'll all be dead inside twelve months.' Oh Ken, have you seen these new labels of mine? Esther got them typed for me." (First line)
"You're puddled. You know that, don't you? You allus have been." (Final line, to Hilda Ogden)
|Ken Barlow | Frank Barlow | Ida Barlow | David Barlow | Jack Walker | Annie Walker | Elsie Tanner | Dennis Tanner | Linda Cheveski | Ivan Cheveski | Harry Hewitt | Lucille Hewitt | Concepta Riley | Ena Sharples | Minnie Caldwell | Martha Longhurst | Albert Tatlock | Christine Hardman | Florrie Lindley | Esther Hayes | Leonard Swindley|