CORRIE's Maggie Jones Has Passed At Age 75

Maggie Jones has died at the age of 75. Jones played the scowling battleaxe Blanche Hunt in CORONATION STREET for 25 years.

Jones had been recovering from an operation she had in October, when she died in her sleep on Wednesday morning, according to a spokesman for ITV, maker of the long-running British soap.

Blanche – with her greying, cockatoo hairstyle and outsize spectacles – was one of the serial's best-loved characters, as she battled with her daughter, Deirdre Barlow, and son-in-law, Ken, and put the world of Weatherfield to rights.

Blanche was known for her gossiping ways and blunt putdowns, typified by her response to the news that Ken's son Peter and his girlfriend Leanne planned to go into business together: "An alcoholic and an arsonist open a bar? Sounds like the start of a joke." Of Liz McDonald, licensee of the Rovers Return, she commented: "Skirt no bigger than a belt, too much eyeliner and roots as dark as her soul!" She told her daughter: "Good looks are a curse, Deirdre. You and Kenneth should count yourselves lucky."

The role of Blanche came to Jones by default. Patricia Cutts was originally cast as Blanche in 1974 but killed herself just days after first being seen in two episodes of the soap. With future scripts already written and Blanche planned as a long-term character, Jones – who had auditioned unsuccessfully for the role – stepped in and made the part her own.

At that time, Blanche ran a corset business from her home but also took charge at the Rovers while its then landlady, Annie Walker, was on holiday. After Deirdre married her first husband, Ray Langton, the couple moved in with her. Later, Blanche managed the Street's corner shop. In 1976, she met an old flame, Dave Smith, and shocked residents by moving away to run a country club with him.

Jones returned to the serial several times over the next 20 years for family events. Then, in 1999, she returned to the role full time, establishing Blanche as the mother-in-law from hell.

Although she won two British soap awards for best comedy performance (in 2005 and 2008), Jones said that her approach to the role was anything but humorous. "I don't find Blanche funny and I don't think I could play her properly if I did," she said. "Blanche genuinely believes that what she is saying is right and doesn't say things for comedic effect. If I started trying to play the lines for laughs, they wouldn't come out right."

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