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David Jason named as nation's favourite Actor

SHERNA NOAH Scotsman 21 September 2005

JEAN Alexander has been named favourite soap star of all time - 18 years after quitting the role of Hilda Ogden in Coronation Street.

The actress, who played pinny-wearing gossip Hilda for 23 years, much of the time with Bernard Youens as her boozy husband Stan, beat Shane Richie, as EastEnders' Alfie Moon, into second place in a TV Times poll.

Jean Alexander said of her character, who was rarely without her trademark headscarf and curlers: "It's unbelievable that people are still so fond of Hilda."

Only Fools and Horses and A Touch of Frost actor David Jason, 65, was named favourite actor, followed by the late Inspector Morse star John Thaw.

Jason was also named best sitcom star in the poll of about 4,000 readers, carried out to mark the magazine's 50th birthday. He beat Dawn French who was second. Helen Mirren, 60, who is about to play Elizabeth I in a new TV drama, took favourite actress, with Amanda Burton runner-up.

Play Your Cards Right host Bruce Forsyth, who has made a comeback with the BBC show Strictly Come Dancing, was named top entertainer, followed by Des O'Connor.

Michael Parkinson, the veteran chat- show host, who recently defected to ITV, was favourite TV presenter while Sir David Attenborough and the duo Ant and Dec tied for second. Phillip Schofield, 43, now co-presenter on ITV's This Morning, was top children's presenter for his days in the BBC Broom Cupboard, followed by Animal Magic's Johnny Morris.

The late Eric Morecambe was named best comic ahead of Ronnie Corbett and Ronnie Barker, while Schmeichel, Coronation Street's Great Dane, was favourite animal star, beating the likes of Lassie and EastEnders' dog Wellard.

ITV police series Heartbeat won all-time favourite theme tune. Nick Berry, who played Heartbeat's original policeman, PC Nick Rowan, sang the title song and topped the charts with it in 1992 when the show started.

Alexander, 79, said she was delighted to be named favourite soap star. "We had so many wonderful individual characters when I was in the show, Ena Sharples and Elsie Tanner come to mind, so to be picked out from amongst that crew is very, very flattering," she said.

The actress also repeated her criticisms of the ITV soap, adding: "The Street is a sink of iniquity now. Even the kids are at it. But it's the same in all the soaps these days - the main story is sex and scandal. In the old days of The Street, the only scandal pertained to Elsie Tanner.

"You never saw anybody getting into bed with anybody else. It was all hinted at, with Hilda running around like a ferret and spreading the scandal. It wasn't thrown in your face all the time like it is now."

The best of British

FAVOURITE SOAP STAR: Hilda Ogden (Alfie Moon with Kat Slater, in second place)

FAVOURITE ACTOR: David Jason (John Thaw second)

FAVOURITE ACTRESS: Helen Mirren (Amanda Burton second)

TOP ENTERTAINER: Bruce Forsyth (Des O'Connor second)

FAVOURITE TV PRESENTER: Michael Parkinson

FAVOURITE SITCOM STAR: David Jason

TOP CHILDREN'S PRESENTER: Philip Schofield

BEST COMIC: Eric Morecambe

FAVOURITE ANIMAL: Schmeichel, (Coronation Street)

TOP THEME TUNE: Heartbeat