Coronation Street’s Betty Driver (Betty Williams) has died

by Lisa McGarry

Betty Turpin, Coronation Street legend, has died this morning aged 91.

A spokeswoman for the ITV soap has confirmed her passing.

The legendary actress has starred in Corrie for 42 years but her health declined earlier this year, after she was rushed to hospital in May 2011, suffering from a serious case of pneumonia.

She was also hospitalised in 2010 because of a serious a chest infection and it was expected that she would retire from the show at that point.

However the hardy actress told The Sun: “I love working on the Street because everyone on it is like my family.

“I don’t want to leave at all – I want to die on set.”

Last year the soap celebrated its 50th anniversary but Driver insisted she would never retire as from her role as the hotpot queen.

She said at the time: “I love working. I can’t retire, I won’t retire – I never ever will.”

In 1969 Betty had retired from acting, after failing to land a role on Corrie as Hilda Ogden. However she was persuaded to join the show’s cast, instead playing police officer’s wife Betty Turpin on Coronation Street, a role she played ever since. She was initially employed on a three-month contract but stayed with the show for more than four decades.

In May 2010 the then 90 year old star was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at the British Soap Awards.

ITV have released a statement saying that Driver “died peacefully in hospital” early this morning.

“She will be sadly missed by everyone who knew her,” the spokesman added.

Former Coronation Street star Julie Goodyear – who starred alongside Betty for many years as Rovers landlady Bet Lynch – said Driver was “the very foundation of the Rovers Return”.

“It was an honour and a privilege to work with Betty Driver for 25 years. We laughed together, we cried together and never once had a cross word. She was a totally professional actress. A true icon and legend and a very dear friend,” she added.

“She will be missed and remembered by millions.”

Barbara Knox, who plays Rita Sullivan in the soap, said: “I have lost a very dear friend and the Street has lost a very great character, a professional to her fingertips – she will be greatly missed.”

Farewell chuck. Let’s all raise a pint and a hot pot to one of Britain’s finest. Coronation Street won’t be the same without her…

Leave your messages of condolence to Betty’s family and friends below…..