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Anthony Booth

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Anthony Booth was born on 9th October 1931 in Liverpool to a poor working-class family. After passing the eleven plus it was hoped that he would progress to university but an accident of his father's at work meant that he had to give up his education to supplement the family income. He was called up for national service and it was in the army that he started to nurture an ambition to become an actor. His main experience was gained in repertory theatre in the 1950s where he first met Patricia Phoenix and had a short but tempestuous affair with her. He made his television debut in the late 1950s and first appeared in Coronation Street in 1960 in Episode 5 in the role of Malcolm Wilkinson, an unsympathetic but flash boyfriend of Christine Hardman's. He appeared in three episodes in total, from 1960 to January 1961 in all of which Pat Phoenix also appeared as Elsie Tanner.

Booth appeared in many films and television series in the 1960s and 1970s, achieving national fame as Mike Rawlins, the lazy "Scouse Git" boyfriend and later husband of Rita, Alf Garnett's daughter in the seminal comedy series Till Death Us Do Part in which he appeared from 1965 to 1968 and a second run from 1972 to 1974. His on-screen persona was an extension of his own political views and he had a famously fractious off-screen relationship with Warren Mitchell with the two often having running arguments during rehearsals.

In 1979 Booth was badly burnt when he upset a drum of paraffin when drunk and spent several months hospitalised. He made his re-acquaintance of Pat Phoenix during this period and the two became lovers. They frequently appeared in the media, often telling their story as one of lovers being split apart in the 1950s and only coming together as a result of his accident - omitting all mention of their having worked together in the initial weeks of Coronation Street. After s Phoenix left the programme they appeared together in a play, For Love Nor Money, that the two wrote under the pseudonym of "Beth Manfield". Booth and Phoenix were married in 1986, just days before she died of cancer.

Booth made a second appearance in Coronation Street in 1987 as Charles Halliday, best man at the wedding of Alec Gilroy and Bet Lynch and a great deal of publicity was made at the time of him appearing in the programme which had made his ex-wife famous, but again with no mention of his previous appearance in 1960-1.

Phoenix was one of Booth's four wives and one of his children from a previous marriage is Cherie Booth, wife of ex-prime minister Tony Blair who Booth and Phoenix campaigned for when he first attempted to enter parliament in 1983. In total he has eight daughters from his various relationships. A man of strong left-wing views, he is a former president of the actor's union, Equity.

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