Page last updated at 16:43 GMT, Thursday, 15 October 2009 17:43 UK

Stars wish Corrie's Blanche well

By Fiona Pryor
BBC News, Entertainment reporter

Maggie Jones
Blanche is known for her cutting comments

Coronation Street stars have wished actress Maggie Jones a speedy recovery after major surgery.

The 75-year-old, who plays Blanche Hunt in the ITV soap, was taken seriously ill at the weekend.

David Neilson, who plays Roy Cropper, said she is a "fantastic" woman and a "real trouper" for having been to work previously, despite not being well.

Gray O'Brien, who plays Tony Gordon in the show, revealed the cast had cheered when they heard she was getting better.

'Cheeky grin'

A spokesman for the show said her condition is "improving by the day", adding "she has turned a corner".

Neilson, whose character owns local cafe Roy's Rolls in the serial, said: "She's a great friend, she's a lovely woman, the acting is beside the point, I just think of her as someone I sit and do crosswords with.

"She's fantastic, a trouper - as they say - because she'll come and she'll do it, even when she's not been well. And it's great news that she seems to be doing better."

We hope that she's pulling together now because the place just wouldn't be the same without her
Alison King who playc Carla Connor

O'Brien, who is currently embroiled in a key storyline, said all the cast and crew had been on "tenterhooks" waiting to hear good news.

"We were all thrilled to hear the other day that she had perked up and things were looking better," he said.

Alison King, who returns to the cobbles next week as Carla Connor, called Jones "the strength of Coronation Street".

She added: "Everyone just wishes her well. It's quite sad, but we hope that she's pulling together now because the place just wouldn't be the same without her.

All three actors were speaking at a screening for a major storyline which reaches a climax next week.

'My beautiful Maggie'

Earlier on this week fellow co-star Bill Tarmey, who plays pensioner Jack Duckworth, said his thoughts were with the actress.

"My beautiful Maggie," he said. "She is a delight, she is wonderful and I am just hoping she will be OK.

"We just sit and laugh together and I need her to get better otherwise I will be sitting on my own."

Michael Le Vell (Kevin Webster) said Jones's sister made a visit to the set in Manchester On Wednesday to reassure the cast.

"The good news is her sister said she has got a cheeky grin back on her face. She told us Maggie has got all her naughtiness back.

"Things are looking up now and we are just hoping she makes a speedy recovery.

"We want just want her back on set, she is massively important to the show, but the main thing is that she gets better.

"She is one of the greatest comedy actresses of all time, she is a legend."

Blanche, is one of the most popular characters on the show, is best known for her cutting put-downs and withering scowls.

Jones scooped the prize for best comedy performance at the British Soap Awards in 2005 and 2008 for her role.

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