Southport’s Jean Alexandar, Hilda Ogden, dies aged 90

Photo: Jean Alexandar Sainsbury’s in Southport (Saturday 29th March 2014)

Southport’s Jean Alexendar, Hilda Ogden, dies aged 90

Former Coronation Street actress Jean Alexander, who starred as Hilda Ogden in the soap for over two decades, has died aged 90. Alexander, who was best known for playing Ogden in the soap but also starred in Last of the Summer Wine, passed away in hospital on Friday.

Her family had been hoping to celebrate her birthday this week, Alexander’s niece Sonia Hearld told the the national newspaper – ‘The Guardian’. “She was a great person and she will be missed,” Hearld said on Friday night.

She added: “At the moment, it is a shock to the family and we are really just getting round to coming to terms with it. We were hoping to be celebrating her birthday this week, but that hadn’t happened.”

“She was in Coronation Street and Last of the Summer Wine. She had a very well-known face – she was once dubbed the all-time favourite soap star, I believe. She was part of people’s lives. She was very well liked in her time.”

ots-jean alexander 2 hilda hogdon coronation street southport ots onthespot ots otsnews.co.uk_0Alexander has previously been quoted as saying that she was confused by her own popularity. “I think probably because she was a downtrodden, poor little soul. I think people were sorry for Hilda,” she said in 2005. “She went plodding away, doing her best all the time, always aspiring to better things. I liked playing her. She was a gift to play, but I wouldn’t want her living next door to me.”

On Friday, Hearld said her aunt was a “very private lady” who was “dedicated to her work and determined to be professional”. She added that Alexander was “very generous” with fans who approached her. “She was always very good to her fans – she said, ‘They put me where I am.’ People used to stop her just to say hello and how much they missed her. She was a great person and she will be sadly missed.”

Hearld said Alexander was taken into hospital on Tuesday and was discharged after a couple of days and allowed to return to her nursing home. But on Tuesday, Alexander was readmitted to hospital, where she died peacefully on Friday. “I saw her last week when we went to see her in hospital. She was feeling a little bit poorly but she was talking to me and my husband quite happily,” Hearld said.

“There was nothing telling us anything was wrong – she was just generally weak and under the weather. We have not had the details.”

Alexander brought a lot of her own personality to her role and “was very observant about people”, Hearld said. “She was very glamorous – I remember when I was about four or five seeing her get ready for an evening, wearing really pretty clothes and high heels. She occasionally let me traipse around the house in them. She was a good role model and she had a drive that carried her through.”

Alexander played Hilda Ogden in Coronation Street for 23 years to 1987 and, after leaving, took a role in Last of the Summer Wine as Auntie Wainwright. In 2010, she revealed that she had come under pressure to put back on her curlers and return to Coronation Street as Hilda, but had always turned the idea down.

“It would be impossible for me to re-create Hilda,” the Liverpool Echo reported her as saying. “She would be totally different from the scrubber who left the Street. My agent said they had tried a number of times to get me back, but the answer was always the same.”

jean Arthur Leslie as Jack Walker, Doris Speed as Annie Walker and Jean Alexander as Hilda Ogden pictured together in the Rovers Return pub in 1967. Photograph: Popperfoto/Getty Images

“I didn’t hear anything about the money involved but no, I’m sorry, after 23 years I couldn’t recreate that character as she would be now – and I didn’t want to play her as she was.”

Four years later, it emerged that she had another problem with the programme: there was too much sex in it. “The only stories they seem to have in mind is who is jumping into whose bed next. I lost interest,” she told the Daily Mirror.

“Things have to move on, I know, but in the days of Hilda Ogden, Annie Walker and co, the Street was gentle, funny and human. The humour has all but gone out of it.”

Alexander won an RTS award in 1985 and was nominated for the Bafta television award for best actress in 1988.

She was born Jean Hodgkinson in Liverpool in 1926 and reportedly worked as a library assistant in the city before beginning her acting career.

Report courtesy of the Guardian.

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