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Coronation Street

Up to date as of January 31, 2010

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Ena Sharples, the role that Violet Helen Carson O.B.E. is best remembered for, came at the end of a long and eclectic career.

Born in Manchester (specifically German Street, Ancoats) on the 1st September 1898, though she often claimed to have been born in 1905, Violet was, along with her elder sister Nellie, part of the singing act "The Carson Sisters". She was employed as a pianist at Manchester's Market Street cinema. She married George Peplow, who she had known from childhood, in Manchester Cathedral in September 1926. She was twenty-eight. George died two years later and Violet never married again.

Violet found work as a singer in early radio adverts and her she was employed for her piano skills on the radio series Have A Go. Radio was the medium in whih she first found widespread fame becoming known by the nation's children as "Aunti Vi", the persenter of the World Service programme Children's Hour. She also presented the B.B.C. North's Womens Hour, One of the child actors on Children's Hour was Tony Warren, who was later to cast her in Coronation Street.

Carson was a late-minute casting as Ena Sharples and was the last actor to audition for the role. She made a memorable appearance in the second half of the first episode. She took over the role from Nan Marriott-Watson who played her in the pilot episodes. Ena's iconic hairnet was an addition of Violet's own, to protect the hair she was so proud of from the ministrations of Granada's make up girls.

Violet was quickly established as a major success in the role, was named "ITV Personality of the Year" for 1962 and was awarded an O.B.E. in 1965, the first member of the Street cast or production team to receive such an honour. Other honours and tributes followed such as two waxwork models, and an honoury degree of Master of Arts from Manchester University in 1973. In 1963 a rose was named after her. From February to April 1968 she went on a three month cruise and promotional tour to Australia and was absent from the programme for this time, only reappearing in late May.

During her time spent in the programme her musical talents continued to come in useful. She was often seen playing the piano in the programme and found work elsewhere as a singer on the ITV programme Stars on Sunday.

Failing health meant Violet played a diminishing role in the programme throughout the 1970s. She was absent from the programme for most of 1974, citing that she was tired and needed a rest. In December of that year she returned to the studios, two stone lighter and admitting to the press (as quoted in the Daily Express of 5th December), that she had suffered a near-nervous breakdown. The following year she suffered a stroke and from hereon in her appearances reduced in number to some forty episodes a year at most. Towards the end of the decade there could be a gap of several months between appearances before she made the last of her 1148 appearances as Ena in 1980. The character was not given a definatively conclusive storyline as it was the intention of all involved that she would return from time to time. This was not to be and Ena's retirement to St. Anne's was permanant. One of Violet's last public appearances was to celebrate the 2000th episode of the programme where she attended a street party with local children for pictures for TV Times. Her final 1980 appearances totalled only five episodes: Episodes 1957, 1966, 1967, 1982 and 1983.

Violet retired to her house in Bispham, Blackpool where she had been a resident since the 1920's and where she lived in seclusion with her elder sister. She died on 26th December 1983. She was cremated at the Carleton Crematorium, Blackpool, and there is a commemorative memorial at Bispham Parish Church in Blackpool. ITV screened Episode 742 from 24th January 1968 (in which the Vestry and Mission of Glad Tidings are demolished) as a tribute to her but her lasting memorial is that she is still remembered for her iconic performance. Indeed nearly three decades after she last appeared as the character, her waxwork model is still on display in Blackpool's Louis Tussauds Waxworks.


This article uses material from the "Violet Carson" article on the Coronation Street wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.







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