One of Corrie's most beloved actresses, Jean Alexander has died


Jean Alexander, who has died aged 90, was a fixture in the nation's living rooms for almost a quarter of a century as the sharp-tongued Hilda Ogden in Coronation Street.

The actress played the pinny-wearing charlady of the Rovers Return, often complete with a set of rollers in her hair, for 23 years.

Viewers tuned in in their millions to watch her wage a constant campaign to force an honest day's work out of her feckless, boozy husband Stan, who was played by Bernard Youens.

Jean Alexander

The inside of their house, complete with an alpine scene painted on one wall which Hilda fondly referred to as her "muriel" and a set of flying ducks, became one of The Street's most enduring sights.

Her nagging of the bone-idle Stan in a voice once described as sounding like "glass breaking" made her a favourite target of impressionists until she quit the show in 1987.

Almost 20 years after that, she was still so fondly remembered that she was voted the nation's favourite soap star.

Jean Alexander
(William Conran/PA)

After winning the poll, she said: "It's unbelievable that people are still so fond of Hilda.

"We had so many wonderful individual characters when I was in the show, Ena Sharples and Elsie Tanner come to mind, so to be picked out from amongst that crew is very, very flattering."

Her famous fans included Sir Michael Parkinson, writer Willis Hall, former Poet Laureate John Betjeman and the late Russell Harty, who formed themselves into the British League for Hilda Ogden.

Jean Alexander

Her response was typical, saying: "I just couldn't see myself stood on a pedestal cast in bronze. Knowing my luck, the Southport seagulls would find me and do their worst, as they have done before - usually when I have just washed my hair."

In later years she was critical of the direction the ITV soap had taken, saying it had become "a sink of iniquity".

She said: "'But it's the same in all the soaps these days - the main story is sex and scandal. In the old days of The Street, the only scandal pertained to Elsie Tanner.

"You never saw anybody getting into bed with anybody else. It was all hinted at with Hilda running around like a ferret and spreading the scandal. It wasn't thrown in your face all the time like it is now."

Jean Alexander
(Toby Melville/PA)

Born in Toxteth, Liverpool, she started her acting career in 1949 and made her television debut in the police series Z-Cars.

She first appeared in Coronation Street in 1961 as landlady Mrs Webb, returning three years later as Hilda, and went on to win a Royal Television Society Award in 1985 for the role.

She played Aunty Wainwright, the money-grabbing local junk shop owner, on the long-running sitcom Last of the Summer Wine, from 1988 to 2010.

Jean announced her retirement in 2012, two years after her last television appearance, following an acting career which lasted more than 60 years.