Jean Alexander, best known for her role as Hilda Ogden in Coronation Street, has died aged 90.
The actress passed away earlier today (14 October) in the Southport and Omskirk hospital near her home.
“She had been feeling a little poorly and had gone in for some tests.
“After a couple of days in hospital she was allowed back to the care home, where she had been looked after since suffering a slight stroke in 2014. But on Tuesday she was still not too good and it was decided she might be better going back into hospital.
“I saw her last week and she seemed weak and a bit tired but this was still a shock. The hospital phoned me and said they were very sorry but Jean had passed away. It is such a shock.” – Sonia Hearld, Jean Alexander’s niece
Jean played busybody Hilda Ogden, often to comic effect, in Coronation Street for more than twenty years between 1964-1987. The character is held in high-esteem by many viewers of the time.
Hilda’s penchant for gossip led to scrapes with the neighbours while she and long-suffering hubby Stan (Bernard Youens) muddled through on the breadline. Though Hilda would often nag Stan, she came to his defence when others spoke out of turn about him. Their popular partnership came to an end in 1984 when after a series of health set backs Youens passed away.
After a period of being referred to but not seen the character of Stan was killed off in the plots. Hundreds of fans sent condolence cards while a scene of Hilda breaking down following Stan’s death is considered one of the series’ classics…
In recent years Jean has admitted to no longer keeping up with the goings on on the cobbles, accusing the programme of focusing too much on sex as well as criticising an over focus on youth in a number of interviews.
“It hasn’t got the character that it used to have. It’s lost its identity somehow for me. You look at all the people in it – the young people in it particularly – and hardly any of them have got a job and those who have are only being paid in buttons. And yet you never see them in the same clothes twice running. They’ve got all the latest fashions, the make-up, the hairdos, all this. Poor Hilda could only get a pinny off the market every once in a while. It shouldn’t be like that – it’s too glossy now.” – Jean Alexander on Coronation Street
Born Jean Hodgkinson in Liverpool on 11 October 1926, she worked as a library assistant in Liverpool before venturing into acting in 1949 at Macclesfield’s Adelphi Guild Theatre. She later worked in rep in Oldham, Stockport and York as an actress, wardrobe mistress and stage manager.
Jean won a Royal Television Society Award for playing Hilda in 1985. In 1987 she was nominated for Best Actress at the BAFTA Television Awards for the role. More than 26 million viewers watched as Hilda left the street that year when, after a party in the Rovers, she moved to Hartington, Derbyshire.
The only other actor to be nominated for a BAFTA for their work on a soap opera is EastEnders‘ Dot Cotton actress June Brown, the nod being received in 2009.
Jean once noted of her role and working with Youens:
“I loved playing Hilda. I never envisaged how iconic she would become, but to be able to make her someone so many people recognised was an honour.
“Hilda was fun, especially with the scrapes Stan got in. I understood her because I knew a lot like her when I was young. Hilda was a hard worker and kept Stan in order.
“They’d bicker, but let anyone say anything about the other and they were up in arms. I’m flattered the character was so successful. I appreciate that people enjoyed what I did. It makes me feel very grateful for my existence.”
After departing the ITV soap the actress made a number of guest appearances in Last Of The Summer Wine as Auntie Wainwright before becoming a regular in the beeb comedy series from 1992 until its final outing in 2010. She later retired from acting in 2012. In 2014 it was reported that she had suffered a minor stroke.
Other credits include Heartbeat, Barbara, Boon and Z Cars. IMDB notes she made her television debut in Deadline Midnight in 1961.
“Very sad to hear of the passing of Jean Alexander, a wonderful actress and a true friend. Tara chuck” – Former Coronation Street writer and archivist Daran Little (@DaranLittle)
“Sad to hear about the passing of Jean Alexander lovely lady and a fine actress” – Kevin Kennedy, who played Curly in Coronation Street between 1983-2003 – (@mrkevkennedy)
“Jean Alexander, RIP. What a wonderful woman, and such an amazing and talented actress
#thankyouforbeingyou” – Sally Dynevor, who has played Sally in the soap since 1986 (@sallydynevor)