Maureen Lipman has spoken of her pride at becoming the first dame of Coronation Street.
The 74-year-old actress, who has been made a dame in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list for services to charity, entertainment and the arts, has appeared on the ITV soap as Evelyn Plummer since 2018, after a brief cameo in 2002.
Her lengthy CV includes everything from a comedy turn in a BT advert to a supporting role in an Oscar-winning drama.
Responding to the news, she said in a statement: “I am proud to be honoured by the Queen and country that I love, for doing the work that I love.
“My grandfather was given the freedom to live and work in the historic and welcoming city of Hull after fleeing persecution in Russia.
“Two generations later that same city gave me, his granddaughter, a full grant to live and study drama at Lamda in London, which led to a rich and rewarding career, giving and receiving pleasure in my craft and now to this unexpected damehood, whilst happily still treading the cobbles of Corrie.
“It is a wonderful reflection on what, one trusts, is the continuing generosity of this country to the immigrant. So, gratefully, Happy Birthday your Majesty and thank you.”
Lipman was born in Hull in 1946 and described the city as a welcoming place to grow up for a Jewish family, saying there was no anti-Semitism.
She studied at the London Academy Of Music And Dramatic Art and one of her early big film appearances came in 1968 drama Up The Junction, playing a working-class young woman who befriends Suzy Kendall’s wealthy heiress.
The role was typical of Lipman’s early career. “I generally played northern working-class girls,” she said. “The girl who didn’t get the man, the best friend who made jokes and then didn’t get the man. The pattern was set.”
Lipman starred in hit ITV sitcom Agony from 1979 to 1981, playing an agony aunt who dished out advice to others while her personal life was a shambles.
Back on the big screen, she earned plaudits – and a Bafta nomination – for her supporting role in 1983 comedy-drama Educating Rita, alongside Sir Michael Caine and Dame Julie Walters.
Later that decade Lipman starred in BT adverts as supportive grandmother Beattie. She revived the role before last year’s general election to criticise Jeremy Corbyn.
Lipman starred in Roman Polanski’s Oscar-winning 2002 drama The Pianist, playing the title character’s mother.
Her stage credits include Oklahoma! and Aladdin. Lipman is currently starring in Coronation Street as Evelyn Plummer.
She married the playwright Jack Rosenthal in 1974 and the couple have two children. Her husband died in 2004 and Lipman later said it was “impossible to grieve” because her instinct was to make people laugh.
“I’d feel terrible about the fact I didn’t look like I was grieving enough,” Lipman said.