Our story starts in 1986 when Alec Gilroy, an introverted and miserable theatrical agent ran the Graffitti Club in Rosamund Street, across from the Rovers Return on Coronation Street.
Both businesses came under the banner of Newton & Ridley Brewery and Alec was carving out a meager living by providing theatrical acts for their establishments.
Alec had established a business association with Bet Lynch, the gregarious and busty bar manager of the Rovers.
Bet was under pressure from the brewery to increase sales and turned to Alec for help. The prices he charged for his artistes were astronomical and so she held her own open-mike event.
The night was a disaster and she didn’t know where to turn next.
Totally surprising Bet, Alec stepped in to help and provided artistes at mates rates, something he had never done in his life.
The second night was a success and Bet saved herself from more wrath by the brewery.
Alec started to visit the Rovers a lot more regularly and slowly but surely a relationship began to take hold.
It was remarkable that a couple that were such poles apart could even bear the sight of each but against all odds a spark seemed to be lit between the two.
Alec spent more and more time in the Rovers and less and les time at the Graffitti Club. Trade at the Graffitti began to suffer and he was sacked by the club.He didn’t care though because that meanthe could spend even more time with Bette.
One evening he took Bet out for a meal. They had a wonderful time together. They laughed and they danced and Alec couldn’t remember last feeling so happy.
Before leaving, Alec told her that he had developed feelings for her and hoped that they had a future together.
He was devastated when Bet accused him of using her to try and get his hands on the Rovers. She knew he had lost his job, and she knew Alec.
His reputation gave her good grounds for being suspicious, but on this occasion he had been absolutely genuine.
Reluctantly he walked away and turned his backon his only chance of true happiness.
Alec picked up the broken pieces of his life and departed on a Spanish tour with one of his cabaret acts. He hoped that the tour would help him forget all about Bet but he couldn’t get her out of his mind.
When he returned to the UK he started calling in at the Rovers again and seeing more and more of Bet.
He soon learned that Bet had been offered the tenancy of the pub by Newton & Rigley. She had been unable to negotiate a loan and faced losing the pub. Worse still it looked as if someone else would stepin and force her from her home.
Alec stepped up to the plate and lent Bet the money she needed. All he asked in return was for her not to tell the brewery of his involvement.
Bet secured the tenancy with the loan and commenced her duties as landlady.
It was all she ever wanted and she should have been the happiest womanin Weatherfield. But she wasn’t happy with how things were deleloping.
She was not happy with Alec.
She found it was he who was running the Rovers, not her.
He was changing the rotas without consulting her, hiring and firing, and had totally taken over the back room, her only private space, as his office.
Bet put up with this as long as she could, but in May of that year, upped sticks and fled, saying nothing to anybody.
She remained untraceable and he missed her terribly. However, He did not want to stay at the Rovers alone. The only problem was that with all his money tied up in the pub, he was unable to leave.
He was forced to accept the role of lowly manager until another tenant could be found.
It was not a happy time for Alec and his general countenance each day was enough to turn the best bitter sour. He lost staff, he lost customers, he got to the end of his tether.
Things got even worse when he heard from the brewery that Bet had relinquished the tenancy and asked for her tenancy deposit back.
The Brewery were not interested in the fact that the money was actually Alec’s.
He had no idea where Bet was, other than a rumour that she had been seen working in a bar in Torremelinos.
Alec set off for Spain to find her. He evenuall found her working as a waitress.
They had a heart to heart and Bet could not believe how understanding he was. He listened sympathetically to all her fears and worries and the fact that everything had got too much for her.
He surprised Bet even more by suggesting that they should run the Rovers tenancy together and run the pub as man and wife.
She viewed it as a rather unconventional marriage proposal but accepted anyway and they travelled home together.
Back home they re-negotiated the brewery tenancy and fixed a date for the wedding.
It was such an unlikely relationship that no-one really expected the wedding to take place.
But take place it did and Alec surprised Bet even more by handing the pub to her as a gift.
The early days of the marriage were very turbulent as Alec began to find out more of Bet’s history. He learned for instance that she was in a serious relationship with Mike Baldwin and could not shake off the feeling that staff and customers were laughing behind his back.
Alec’s real problem stemmed from the fact that he simply could not believe the a woman like Bet could possibly be attracted to a man like him.
In 1988 Bet told him that she was pregnant – at 47 years of age.
The news made them both incredibly anxious, particularly Alec who had always regarded children as aliens.
But the more they thought about it, the more they warmed to it.
A few days later their world was shattered again when Bet miscarried.
The couple mourned together and continued living their life together.
Alec kept his agency business very close to his chest. He ran a very dodgy business in that he wheeled and dealed a lot and often enjoyed a fair amount of undisclosed income. Undisclosed to the tax man and certainly undisclosed to his wife.
It all began to come to a head when the tax man latched on to him and he was forced to pay them thousands of pounds unexpectedly.
He was forced to accept a long tour of the Middle East just to pull himself back from his financial disaster.
This made him unhappy as he had grown incredibly close to Bet and her to him. What had started off as a marriage of convenience had actually turned into a love story.
But not one with a happy ending.
Alec returned from the Middle East three weeks early and found the staff running the pub and Bet out on a date with a well known lothario.
Bet denied there was anything untoward, and there probably wasn’t asshe really did love Alec.
But Alec refused to believe her. He tried to bluff her into admitting that she’d done wrong by demanding a divorce.
Much to his surprise, Bet reacted by seeing her solicitor and demanding h filed for divorce on the grounds of Alec’s unreasonable behavior.
A perfectly healthy relationship had been put in jeopardy by the intense stubbornness of two individuals.
They both refused to speak to each other again and spent their lives slagging each other off to friends and customers.
One of the customers, Jack Duckworth, harbouring a long standing desire to run the Rovers Return, shopped the couple to the brewery, saying that the war between the two of them was seriously hampering business.
Jack’s interference was counter productive as it actually brought the volatile couple together again and they decided to honeymoon together in Spain.
The honeymoon was the highlight of their marriage, and their return to Weatherfield was to herald the end of a rather bizzare coupling.
Alec was offered the role of Master of Ceremonies on a cruise ship and needed to relocate permanently to Southampton to enable him to take the job.
Bet refused to accompany him, he went alone and the couple slowly drifted apart.
And so ended a rather volatile love story between a loud, extrovert barmaid and a dry, introverted business man.
It was good while it lasted but it was never going to last forever
You may be interested in reading three other Corrie Love Stories:
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