Hilda was such a grubby little soul, but taking the part changed my life
Born Jean Mavis Hodgkinson in Liverpool, actress Jean Alexander became one of the UK’s best-loved soap stars of all time, as Hilda Ogden in Coronation Street.
She took work in theatres before moving to London in 1961 for her first television roles and three years later, she had her breakthrough. As Hilda Ogden in Coronation Street, she soon became a firm favourite for the British public. She remained on the show for 23 years and the character, rarely seen without a hair curler peeping out from under her headscarf, was instantly recognisable.
With Bernard Youens, who played her screen husband, Stan, Jean shared some of the soap’s funniest scenes. On one memorable occasion, Stan kisses Hilda and asks what her new lipstick tastes like.
“Woman, Stan,” she replies.
Jean’s final scene in the show brought the highest viewing audience in the show's history. It was a testament to how beloved her character was. In 2005, she won the "Greatest Soap Opera Star of All Time" poll by the UK TV Times – 18 years after she'd left Corrie.
Jean went on to play Auntie Wainwright in The Last of the Summer Wine – a role that endured for 20 years. In her final interview, she looked back on her career with pride, saying: “I’ve not done badly for a girl from the back streets of Liverpool.”