Friday, 14 October 2016

RIP, Hilda

Uncrowned (just be-curlered) "Queen of the Cobbles", Corrie's favourite busybody Hilda Ogden was the brilliant creation of Miss Jean Alexander, who died today aged 90.

Ex-librarian Jean Alexander was born and bred in Liverpool. She started acting when she joined a Macclesfield theatre company and spent years touring in Rep, as well as being the leading actress at York's Theatre Royal. Radio and television work eventually led to a small part on Coronation Street, playing Mrs Webb, a local landlady. Two years later in 1964 she landed the part of Hilda Ogden and a television legend was created - and earned her her place as a "national treasure".

For twenty three years Hilda Ogden lived at No. 13 Coronation Street and "kept her eye firmly wedged in the keyhole of life". She left in 1987 to keep house for Dr Lowther in Derbyshire and little was heard of her since. Hilda Ogden's departure attracted a record soap opera audience of 26m viewers. When she quit the show, fans launched a "Save Hilda" campaign without realising that she was leaving voluntarily.

  • Lord Larry Olivier and Russell Harty formed the Hilda Ogden Appreciation Society in the 1970s.
  • In a 1982 poll, she was named the 4th most recognisable woman in Britain, behind the Queen, the Queen Mother and Princess Diana.
  • Readers of 'TV Times' named her the greatest soap opera star of all time in 2005.
  • The Royal Television Society presented her with a magnificent trophy as Best Actress of 1987.
  • Jean said she would not return to Coronation Street because the show " all about who's sleeping with whom."
  • For a further two decades, she also played "Auntie Wainwright" in Last of the Summer Wine.
In her own words: "If they remember Hilda with such affection, then I'm happy and very flattered... It means that I did a good job and that's what I set out to do."

Here are some snippets of Hilda (and Stan) in action (their hopes for a change of luck dashed as ever...):

All about Hilda Ogden

RIP Jean Alexander (born Jean Hodgkinson, 11th October 1926 – 14th October 2016)


  1. What wonderful clips from Corrie. It was like seeing long lost Uncles and Aunts that are no longer here.
    Seeing all those old faces again takes me back to my growing up days. The show seemed to have a charm back then. But now of course I've lost touch with it.

    No doubt the news channels today will play that clip that we fondly remember of Hilda and Stan when Stan says. "What's that smell"? To which Hilda responds " Woman Stanley...women"!

    1. There are so many "Hilda" clips to choose from... It is true - Coronation Street was a great programme in its heyday, and like you I haven't watched it for years; but without the raft of "matriarchs" we knew and loved, would it be worth it? Jx

  2. I know a few people who stopped watching when it became all sex and scandal. So Jean Alexander may have had a good point.

    1. I have never quite understood how on earth people in our soaps are quite so ignorant of contraception - how many more unwanted/unplanned/forgotten children can they possibly bring into the worlds of Weatherfield, Walford or Beckindale? I can hear Ena Sharples and Annie Walker tutting as we speak. Jx

  3. I agree - greatest soap star of all time - RIP Mrs O x

  4. Thank you for this! Didn't Gail look young?!!! And the plot lines were more realistic back then. I met Fred Gee once, in a pub in Dartford.
    God bless Hilda!

    1. Considering that clip must have been forty years ago, Miss Tildsley-as-was (Helen Worth) was pretty young! Jx

      PS My other half almost crushed Mavis Riley (Thelma Barlow) behind a toilet door at the Prince Edward Theatre...


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