In England, the soap opera ‘Coronation Street’ is as much an institution as the Queen herself! It’s been running since 1960, and personally, I have fond memories of watching it in the 70’s with my Mum, a cup of tea and a sandwich.
And without doubt, my favourite characters were the Ogden’s at number 13, headed by the inimitable Hilda, played by the fabulous Jean Alexander. In a 1982 poll, she was voted fourth most recognisable woman in Britain, after Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, Queen Elizabeth II and Diana, Princess of Wales.
The pride and joy of No.13 resident Hilda Ogden were the flying ducks on her ‘muriel’. They have become Corrie icons as much as Hilda herself over the years. They appeared on Hilda’s wall from the late 1970s to the early 1980s. One of the ducks infamously would be seen diving into the sea on the mural, and apparently Jean Alexander, who played Hilda, would check this before filming.
The flying ducks did appear on the show before debuting on Hilda’s wall. Next-door neighbour Elsie Tanner had some on her wall and they were seen in the very first episode in 1960 as well as during the 1960s. But it seems that Hilda never bequeathed them from Elsie. In fact, she bequeathed them from her Auntie Aggie as she told Sally Webster in 1987. Flying ducks were common ornaments in homes across England at the time.
When Hilda left the street in 1987, she took her flying ducks with her. As she told Percy Sugden:
“I’ve come in here more times than I care to remember. Cold. Wet. Tired out. Not a penny in me purse. And seeing them ducks and that muriel… well they’ve kept me hand away from gas tap. And that’s a fact.”
The flying duck on a downward spiral has become a symbol of the bad luck the Ogdens often had as well as their house being number 13.