Coronation Street: Tributes paid to actress Jean Alexander
Stars of Coronation Street have paid tribute to "inspirational" Jean Alexander who played one of the soap's most famous characters, Hilda Ogden.
William Roache, who plays Ken Barlow, said she was a "wonderful actress" who could make make you laugh and cry.
Julie Goodyear, who starred as Bet Lynch in the soap, said she was an "amazing actress" and an "absolute joy to play scenes with".
Alexander died peacefully in hospital aged 90 on Friday, her niece said.
She portrayed Hilda Ogden, a sharp-tongued, put-upon housewife who was one of Coronation Street's best-known characters, from 1964 to 1987.
Roache, who has been in Coronation Street since its first episode in 1960, said: "Jean created one of the most iconic Coronation Street characters in Hilda Ogden.
"She could make you laugh, particularly with Hilda's comedy singing, but she could also deliver incredibly moving performances and make you cry. She was a wonderful actress."
Goodyear added: "Jean Alexander was the exact opposite of the character she played, Hilda Ogden. This proves what an amazing actress she was. Jean was a very private person and meticulous in her work. Hilda will be remembered forever as one of the best characters in Coronation Street."
Sally Dynevor, who is known for her role as Sally Webster, described her as an "inspiration" and said Hilda would always be her favourite character.
Dynevor worked alongside Alexander after joining Coronation Street in 1986 when her character Sally moved in with Hilda and Kevin Webster, played by Michael Le Vell.
In a tribute on twitter, she wrote: "Jean Alexander, RIP. What a wonderful woman, and such an amazing and talented actress."
She went on: "Michael and I loved her, and any scenes we did with her we always wanted to do our very best."
Le Vell, who plays Kevin Webster, said her death had come as a "shock" and described Alexander as "the biggest iconic soap character to walk the planet".
He added: "My proudest and most exciting moment on the show was when Kevin and Sally moved in with Hilda as it meant I would have loads of scenes with her.
"She was such a warm, caring person and a joy to work with. She was also great fun. We used to watch snooker in the green room with her as she loved snooker.
"For such an iconic character she was always one of the first people to make a new arrival feel so welcome."
'Wish Me Luck'
Other cast members have expressed their sadness at the news of her death.
Jennie McAlpine, who has played Fiz Brown on Coronation Street since 2001, tweeted: "So sorry to hear about Jean Alexander. I would have loved to work with her. Thankful to have met her though. Rest in Peace Jean x."
Antony Cotton, who joined the cast as Sean Tully in 2003, said Alexander was "magnificent", adding: "My favourite episode of Coronation Street ever, was Hilda singing 'Wish Me Luck...'"
Kym Marsh, who plays Michelle McDonald in the soap, wrote: "RIP Jean Alexander. A true soap icon. Never will you be forgotten."
Former Coronation Street actress Georgia May Foote, who played Katy Armstrong between 2010 and 2015, tweeted: "Such an incredible actress. My thoughts are with your family."
'A dream come true'
Daran Little, Coronation Street script writer from 2000 to 2010, said Alexander "reached into the hearts of viewers - she was everyone's nan, everyone's nosy neighbour".
Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme, he said: "I think the great thing about Jean playing Hilda is that Jean was absolutely nothing like Hilda - she was sophisticated and quiet, she was an ex-librarian, she used to love doing crosswords and she used to pad up coat hangers for charity.
"And when she put the curlers on, she became something else."
Alexander left the soap in 1987 and went on to join the cast of Last of the Summer Wine as junk shop owner Auntie Wainwright, who she played for 22 years until 2010.
Actress Kate Robbins, who appeared alongside her in an episode of the sitcom, tweeted: "Acting with Jean Alexander was, for me, a dream come true. Diminutive in size but a giant of talent. #RIPJean."
Other stars took to social media to pay tribute to the actress.
Sherlock Holmes actor Eddie Marsan said Alexander was "one of the best" while Homeland star David Harewood described her as a "legend".
John Whiston, creative director at ITV Studios, said fans of Coronation Street will "know how sad it is" to hear the news of her death.
He added: "Hilda Ogden was the earthy heart of the show for very many years, and the brilliance of Jean as an actor was that she could shift from high comedy to deeply emotional and moving drama in a heartbeat.
"That takes real skill and real acting but also real humanity. That is what the world has lost with her passing."