Marie Lloyd : Playing Percy Courtenay
Richard Armitage plays Percy Courtenay, first husband of Marie Lloyd and father of her only child.
Percy Charles Courtenay was born in Greenwich in 1862, son of a master mariner, Edwin, who died when Percy was still a child. There is little recorded information about him, so as Richard Armitage said, "It meant the script writers had a bit more free rein with him. I’ve really taken what they’ve given and developed it with my imagination – that’s a cheeky way of saying I’ve done my own thing!” 
A friend of his, George Foster, described him as "a young blood and a racing man with plenty of money and an attractive personality." He was also said to have "the air of a gentleman".  He described himself on official documents as a General Dealer or a Commission Agent, but in reality he was a race-course tout. 
Richard Armitage explained, "When [Percy and Marie] meet there’s an instant attraction and I think that’s because he recognises himself in her and admires her feistiness and her drive. There’s a balance of him seeing her as an investment he wants to develop but he also recognises something special in her, a real spark, like an untamed wild animal." 
They married in 1887 when she was only 17 and already pregnant. At first the marriage was a happy one. “It’s actually very good and honest at the start, and once they get together he lets the mask slip a bit and they click and fire off each other. But it starts to go off kilter when she becomes more famous and wealthy and he lives off her success.” 
The Courtenays' house was frequently full of her family and friends, and Sundays were open house to her music hall friends. Percy complained that they hardly spent any time alone together. She gave him an allowance of three pounds a week, but he also ran up debts that he expected her to settle.
"For an Edwardian man it was in many ways the ultimate humiliation and as much as he was basking in it and loving it and spending her money, at the same time I think the press ridiculed him as a kept man and his frustration built up and he began to take out his anger on her," said Richard Armitage. 
Flo Hastings, a young friend of Marie's who was also in the music halls, remembered Percy Courtenay at this time. He wasn't handsome, she said, but he was smartly dressed. "He was slim, not a big man. He was a racing man, used to hang around the race course - a punter.
"I used to sleep with Marie while he was away in the West End with his racing friends. He was always out with other women. He'd ask her for fifty pounds and swear he'd make it up tomorrow, but she'd never see it again. She hated him. He was a dirty old thing. One night at the Standard [later the Victoria Palace] he came up to me and used filthy language just as I was going on. I flung a drink in his face and the barman nearly killed him - the dirty thing." 
As the marriage began to break down, Percy turned violent. The first scene that Richard Armitage filmed with Jessie Wallace was a violent one. "I was pinning her up against the wall within half an hour.
By 1893, Marie and Percy were living apart. But Percy's violence towards her continued. One night in 1894, he came to the stage door of the Empire, Leicester Square, as Marie was leaving to go to another theatre. He threatened her with a hooked stick: "You are not going into that brougham tonight. I will gouge your eyes out and ruin you," he told her.  She managed to get away from him, but later that night, he was waiting for her when she arrived at the pub in Wardour St that she had bought for her parents. "I am going to ----- well murder you tonight. I will shoot you stone dead and you will never go on stage any more."  Again he was brought before the magistrates, and again he was bound over to keep the peace. Marie was sacked from the Empire, the manager afraid that Percy would make more trouble. 
They were finally divorced in 1905, Percy having petitioned on the grounds of her adultery with Alec Hurley, who became her second husband.  Richard Armitage said, “I don’t think it was either of their faults exactly, but it was really sad. At the end when the divorce is finalised, there’s a moment when she walks away and there is a tangible sense of regret because I do think he really loved her.” 
Little is known of Percy Courtenay's life after his time as 'Mr Marie Lloyd'. It seems likely that he died in Hove in 1933, of an accidental drug overdose. He was 70 years old. 
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