16:58 02 December 2009
Coronation Street's Maggie Jones has died aged 75.
The veteran actress known for her portrayal of the much-loved battleaxe Blanche Hunt in the ITV soap, passed away following a long battle with illness.
Jones had been in a critical condition after being rushed to hospital for life-saving surgery last month.
However, despite improvement, her health suddenly deteriorated and she passed away peacefully in her sleep at Hope Hospital in Manchester.
Long time co-star Bill Roache (Ken Barlow) led the tributes to the actress who played his mother-in-law.
He said: "Maggie was a big part of the Barlow family and a brilliant actress.
"She was a tower of strength, physically frail but mentally as strong as an ox and sharp as someone half her age.
"She had an amazing dry wit and was as funny if not funnier than Blanche.
"I don't think Maggie ever realised how much she was loved not only by everyone on the show but by the millions of Blanche fans out there. She will be greatly missed."
She first appeared on the Cobbles in 1974 and became a regular cast member in 1999. She has appeared in over 830 episodes as the matriarch Blanche, who is famed for her sharp put-downs.
RDA graduate Jones She won the British Soap Award for 'Best Comedy Performance' for her role on the ITV1 soap in 2005 and 2008. She was also awarded the 'Funniest Performance' at the Inside Soap Awards this year.
Coronation Street executive producer, Kieran Roberts, said: "Maggie was a much-loved colleague and a wonderful actress who turned Blanche into a true Coronation Street icon.
"She will be hugely missed by Coronation Streets many millions of viewers and by everyone who works on Coronation Street. Our thoughts and prayers go to Maggie's sister Joan at this very sad time."
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