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Violet Carson OBE
Born Violet Carson
1 September 1898(1898-09-01)
Ancoats, Manchester, England
Died 26 December 1983 (aged 85)
Bispham, Blackpool, Lancashire, England

Violet Carson OBE (1 September 1898 – 26 December 1983) was a British actress.

Her mother was an amateur singer and she was born in Ancoats, Manchester. As a child she performed with her sister as a singing act called the Carson Sisters. She then became a cinema pianist providing the musical accompaniment for silent films. She married George Peploe at Manchester Cathedral in 1926, but George died three years later at the age of 31 and she never re-married.

Before her transfer to television Violet Carson was a regular member of Children's Hour on the BBC Home Service and was the star of Nursery Sing Song from Manchester, in which she frequently sang with producer Trevor Hill, many years her junior. Contrary to popular opinion she was never known as Auntie Vi, that epithet belonging only to Violet Fraser back in the 1920s. "I was never anyone's aunt" exclaimed Carson when Hill produced a BBC radio programme about her in 1981. She was at one time the pianist for the Wilfred Pickles radio show Have A Go from the 1940s and she was also a serious actress.

Carson, though, is best remembered for her role as Ena Sharples, the flint faced and gruff moral voice of Coronation Street, a role she played from 1960 to 1980. For much of her 20 years on the programme, Sharples' moralising caused her to spar regularly with Elsie Tanner (Pat Phoenix). Long after her departure from the programme, Carson continued to be synonymous with the hairnet that Ena chose to wear for almost every occasion. However, she had previously enjoyed a long career in entertainment, particularly noted as a singer and a pianist. As a singer, Carson was in the soprano range and was a regular fixture on the Christian hymnal programme Songs of Praise in the 1960s and 1970s.

She was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1965 and had a rose named after her.[1] The character of Ena was a very demanding job. Ironically, the irascible Ena was almost the exact opposite of Carson's real personality.

On 22 March 1968, she attended the 10th Annual Australian TV Week Logie Awards (named after John Logie Baird ) at the Southern Cross Hotel in Melbourne ,where she presented awards to some of the main winners that year.

During the 1970s, Carson suffered a series of strokes and endured other health problems, and only played Ena sporadically throughout the decade. In April 1980, a storyline involved Ena moving to Lytham St. Anne's, near Blackpool to stay with a friend while her flat at the street's community centre was being renovated. When the character returned, the flat was not ready and Ena announced on screen (to characters Ken Barlow and Albert Tatlock) that she would return to her flat — but only if she felt like doing so; it was at this point that Carson became ill with pernicious anaemia and was forced to leave the programme. All storylines involving the return of Ena Sharples had to be scrapped because of her illness, although Ena Sharples was still considered an active character. She lived in a bungalow in Bispham, Blackpool with her sister Nellie and refused to make any public appearances after her retirement.

Violet Carson died, aged 85, on Boxing Day 1983. She was cremated at Carleton Crematorium, Blackpool and is commemorated at Bispham Parish Church in Blackpool.


Further reading

  • Over the Airwaves [Chapter 9] by Trevor Hill (the Book Guild) (2005)

External links

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