We were deeply saddened to hear of the recent death of Betty Driver - Betty Turpin/Williams in Coronation Street since 1969.
As warm hearted and good natured as the character she played, experienced performer Betty Driver was actually retired from acting and running a pub in Cheshire when Corrie producer HV Kershaw spotted her and asked her to audition for the Street. Betty always recalled with deep gratitude the support given to her by actor Arthur Leslie, the Street's Jack Walker, during her early appearances in the show, and she became firm friends with Jean Alexander - Hilda Ogden. The two ladies would often spend time chatting and making padded coat-hangers for their favourite charity between takes.
My own personal feeling is that Betty could lift a scene simply by bustling into it, and she had that magic quality of seeming to be everyday working class - the sort of person you'd have a giggle with if you accidentally clashed trollies in Tesco's.
The character of Betty Turpin was one of the Street's anchor characters, often just simply around behind the Rovers bar, but she endured her fair share of drama, particularly in the '70s and '80s. She arrived in 1969 as the sister of Corner Shop owner Maggie Clegg. In the early '70s, her husband Cyril was retired from the police force after attacking a criminal (who had been terrorising Betty) with a lead pipe. Cyril died in 1974, and Betty then endured the shame of the revelation that her "nephew", Gordon Clegg, was actually her own son, born out of wedlock during the war. In 1982, Betty was mugged, but her greatest triumph came during that decade when her employer Bet Lynch, recently taken over as Rovers chief, asked Betty to make her hotpot a regular on the Rovers menu. The hotpot, a very occasional feature for some years beforehand, became a legend - and a version actually appeared in real-life supermarkets in recent years.
God bless, Betty - we'll miss you. xx