Phyllis Purwick (nee Renfrew, previously Acaster) is the mother of Dolly Skilbeck and the sister of Jessie Renfrew. Phyllis arrived to stay at Emmerdale Farm in January 1978, upon discovering Dolly's pending marriage to Matt Skilbeck. Phyllis was determined to not let Dolly make another mistake like she did getting engaged to Richard Roper years ago, and began to become controlling over the wedding plans. Phyllis initially wants the wedding to take place in Darlington, but is convinced to allow it to take place in Beckindale - on the one condition that she decides on the wedding dress. Phyllis refuses to allow Dolly to marry in white due to her affair with Richard, and that she will marry in yellow instead - infuriating Dolly. However, when Phyllis returned to Darlington in March 1978, the pair left on good terms.
Amos Brearly takes Phyllis to the Press Ball in February 1978, when Phyllis is the only one available to go. However, Amos arrives at the venue to find that his wallet is missing - which contained the tickets.
In May 1978, Phyllis sent Dolly a letter in which she said that Dolly will wear a taffeta wedding dress, and eleven relations (excluding friends) will be present at the ceremony. However, Phyllis suddenly becomes uninterested in Dolly's wedding, surprising Dolly. Phyllis then tells Jessie that she cannot afford to pay for the wedding reception, and refuses to send her wedding veil. However, Phyllis returns in June 1978, revealing that she had secretly gotten married to Leonard Purwick. Phyllis then tells Dolly that Leonard will walk her down the aisle, infuriating Amos Brearly whom Dolly had already asked. Phyllis attends the wedding ceremony, and Leonard invites Dolly and Matt on his and Phyllis's honeymoon in the Bahamas, which Dolly declines.
In February 1979, Dolly phoned Phyllis in the Bahamas to ask if she could look after Jessie, who had fallen ill. However, Phyllis said that she wouldn't be able to for at least three months due to Leonard being away on business.