First appeared: 9th December 1960
Philip Lowrie has played the role of rogue Dennis Tanner between 1960 and 1968 and from 2011.
Born in Ashton-under-Lyne in Lancashire in 1936, Lowrie was trained in RADA where he trained for three years alongside Christine Hargreaves (Christine Appleby). In 1959, he made his acting debut in film Sapphire.
The following year he was cast as 18 year old bad boy Dennis Tanner in new drama serial Coronation Street and debuted in the first episode. He’d originally auditioned for the role of Ken Barlow but he was instead cast as Dennis in favour of Ken Farrington, who’d go on to play Billy Walker. The errand son of femme fatale Elsie, Dennis’ first storyline was trying to rebuild his life after spending time in Borstal. He managed to do so by entering the entertainment world by becoming an agent for various acts. Gradually, Dennis became a comedy character. During his first stint on the show, Dennis’ storylines included moving to London; having various liaisons; and having various jobs – ranging from a hairdresser to a shop assistant. By 1968, Lowrie had grown tired of the role as he felt the character wasn’t going anywhere. Dennis’ exit storyline involved him marrying Jenny Sutton and moving to Bristol. When Pat Phoenix, who played his mum Elsie, heard that Lowrie had resigned she vowed never to speak to him again and only did so when they were in character. In 1971, Lowrie told magazine TV Times that he wished producers had killed Dennis off so that it would be impossible for him to return. The last we heard about Dennis was in 1973 when Elsie was told he was jailed for conning pensioners.
Having left Dennis behind, Lowrie secured roles in various TV shows like Kate (1970-1972), War and Peace (1972-1973), The Liver Birds (1978), Victoria Wood (1989), Casualty (1989-2010) and Doctors (2005). He was also a voice-over on Channel 4's quiz show Fifteen to One, alternating with Laura Calland and Sarah Wynter. In 2011, Lowrie reprised his role as Dennis in Corrie, 43 years after his last appearance. This made him the actor who had had the longest break between appearances in any programme in the world, beating the 42 year gap that Kenneth Cope had when he reprised his role in Corrie in 2008, having made his last appearance back in 1966. When it was announced he was returning, many questioned the motives. Few characters remembered him and any links he had were severed – mum Elsie had left the street back in 1984. He was re-introduced as a homeless person, having lost his fortunes. He reunited with old flame Rita Sullivan and moved in with her. The ghost of Elsie was finally put to rest when Dennis told Rita that his mum had died in a car crash in Portugal in 2004. The motives for his return gradually became clear as a romance blossomed between him and Rita. But his jumpy behaviour caused concern for his friends and it was revealed that he had jilted a woman called Norma Fountain. Norma met up with Dennis and he apologised and over time he grew closer to Rita and in 2012 they married. Lowrie has now appeared in over 500 episodes. He admitted recently that Barbara Knox (Rita Tanner) had asked for Dennis to return as he’d had a rendezvous with Rita back in 1964 and wanted to revisit the history between them. Let’s hope that they have a sweet and happy marriage!
I have no information on Lowrie’s private life. I don’t know if anyone can enlighten me.
Have you ever seen or met Philip Lowrie? Do you have any pieces of trivia about him?
Research from Wikipedia, Corriepedia, Corrie Net and IMDB.