Corrie’s Eileen Derbyshire’s life away from playing Emily Bishop – including famous son

Eileen Derbyshire played Emily Bishop on ITV soap opera Coronation Street for more than fifty years, but the actor has kept a low-profile when it comes to her life off-screen

Eileen Derbyshire is best known for her role as Emily Bishop on Coronation Street, with her having played the character in the popular ITV soap opera for more than five decades.

The actor, 90, appeared on the programme from 1961 until her departure in 2016, making her the longest-serving female cast member of the show – which first aired in 1960.

There was a brief cameo appearance in 2019 but she has yet to make a subsequent return, though Emily has been referenced by other characters on the soap in recent years.

And whilst many viewers will have grown up watching the gentle-natured character on the cobbles, the actor behind the role has kept a low profile and remains a private person.

Eileen Derbyshire (centre right) appeared on Coronation Street for more than five decades

Details of her life however have been publicised, including the tragic loss she suffered just a year ago and the identity of her award-winning son, as reported by OK! magazine.

Family life

Eileen was born in Lancashire and later lived in Cheshire with her late husband Thomas Holt, whom she married in 1965. They welcomed their son Oliver Holt, now 55, in 1966.

He’s an award-winning sports journalist who is said to have started his career at the Liverpool Echo. He later wrote for the Times, the Mirror and how writes for the Mail on Sunday.

Oliver previously spoke about his mother in the Times, in which he revealed that she is a private person – who isn’t particularly interested in the publicity surrounding her job.

Eileen, pictured with on-screen husband George Waring, kept a low-profile with her personal life

He’s said to have commented: “[She is] one of the last of a dying breed of old-fashioned actresses who do it for the love of acting, not for all the attendant publicity.”

It’s been reported that prior to joining Coronation Street, she had obtained a degree in teaching and trained at the Northern School of Music. She later ventured into acting.

Her late husband Thomas, who had been an engineer, sadly passed away in February last year. Oliver spoke about his father, who had Alzheimer’s Disease, in a column.

Off-screen friendships

The actor is understood to have had close relationships with several of her former co-stars on Coronation Street, having worked alongside some of them for a number of decades.

It has previously been reported that Eileen – who has three grandchildren through her son Oliver – is the godmother to several of her former colleagues’ children.

This is said to include being a godparent to three children of William Roache, 89, who plays Ken Barlow, and the daughter of Barbara Knox, 88, who plays Rita Sullivan.

Eileen and then co-star Barbara Knox receiving their MBE medals


Eileen has been known to avoid awards shows over the years, though that hasn’t stopped her being commended for her performances – having received an MBE in 2010.

She was awarded this for her services to drama. She received the honour alongside co-star Barbara, with them having been photographed together at the recipient event.