Coronation Street legend Jean Alexander has died just three days after her 90th birthday.
The actress, who played Hilda Ogden in the soap, passed away peacefully Friday morning.
She was admitted to hospital on Tuesday, her birthday – after feeling unwell.
Her niece, Sonia Hearld, 64, received a phone call from the hospital yesterday, breaking the bad news.
“It is such a shock,” she said. “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.”
Sonia and her sister Valerie Thewlis, 60, had to break the news of their aunt’s death to their father, Jean’s brother, Kenneth Hodgkinson, 91.
They were the actress’s only relatives; Jean never married or had children.
Born Jean Hodgkinson, she played busy body cleaner Hilda for 23 years, from July 1964 until 1987.
She began her acting career in 1949 at the Adelphi Guild Theatre in Macclesfield, and later worked in rep in Oldham, Stockport and York.
Her television debut was in the television police series Z-Cars and first appeared in Coronation Street in 1962 as landlady Mrs Webb.
In 1985 she received the Royal Television Society Award for her performance on Coronation Street.
She finally retired from acting in 2012.
In 2014, Jean suffered a stroke. With typical humour, just days afterwards, she told fans: “Don’t worry, I am fit and well, but thank you so much for your goodwill messages.
“I suffered a very slight stroke but I hope to be back in the garden in no time at all.”
And she laughed: “I’ve spent my career playing old ladies – now I am one.”
“Don’t write me off yet, there’s still so much I plan to see and do.”