Sad to hear the death of former Coronation Street actress Jean Alexander yesterday at the age of 90. Alexander was of course more than just a soap star, she was in fact a cultural icon, from the same Manchester of The Smiths and Lowry and, as one friend rightly pointed out to me earlier, back in the early 80s, more people could probably recognise her character Hilda Ogden than they could Ronald Reagan, the then US president and 'most important man in the world'. Such was the power of popular television.
Alexander played the role of sharp-tongued, gossiping housewife and Rovers Return cleaner Hilda Ogden from 1964 to 1987, a role which saw her biggest and most high profile fan to be Sir Laurence Olivier himself, and which was awarded the nation's favourite soap character by the TV Times in 2005, a full eighteen years after she had last graced the cobbles. Following her departure, Alexander went on to appear in Last of the Summer Wine and what she considered to be the most favourite role of her career, Auntie Wainwright, for twenty-two years.
She passed away in Southport hospital yesterday evening after a short illness. RIP