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Final farewell to Corrie's popular Betty

Hundreds of friends and colleagues of Coronation Street favourite Betty Driver were joining her family at her funeral today.

Stars past and present from the ITV soap were paying their respects to the much-loved veteran who played the role of Betty Williams (Turpin) for 42 years.

She became the longest-serving barmaid in the history of the Rovers Return and her trademark lunchtime hot-pot became a famed dish.

Driver (91) died on October 15 after being in hospital for the previous six weeks. Former colleagues from her days as a big band singer and film star were also attending the service at St Ann's Church in Manchester city centre, which is expected to be a celebration of her life.

She appeared in more than 2,800 episodes of Coronation Street and was made an MBE in the Millennium New Year's Honours list in Britain.

Last year, when the soap celebrated its 50th anniversary, she insisted she would never retire from the show.

Driver had originally auditioned for the role of Hilda Ogden in 1964 after a 36-year-career in radio, television and the stage. She was then persuaded to come out of retirement in 1969 to audition for the role of Betty instead.

Following her death, her co-stars on the soap paid tribute to "a wonderful actress and remarkable woman".

Julie Goodyear, fellow barmaid Bet Lynch, said: "We laughed together, we cried together and never once had a cross word. She was a true icon and legend."

William Roache, who plays Ken Barlow. said: "I loved Betty dearly, she was godmother to my son James. She will be missed in the Street but she will be missed more so as a warm and loving person."

hnews@herald.ie