Saturday, 22 October 2011

The incomparable Betty Driver

Today I attended Betty's funeral, held in St Ann's Church in Manchester city centre.  Betty, who was 91, was universally loved by everyone who worked on Coronation Street and the church was packed with both cast, production and crew past and present.  Betty had chosen the music and decided on the details herself, choosing Saturday as a day on which, with no Corrie being filmed, everyone who wished to could attend.

The service began with Granada staff and family friends carrying her coffin into the beautiful church as sunlight streamed through the stained glass windows.  The church itself, full of white and pink roses as she had requested.  The first piece of music was 'Lord of the Dance' after which Helen Worth spoke of working alongside Betty and of her skill for making something out of nothing - with Betty a look could say it all.

This was followed by a recording of 'Swan Lake' before theatre producer Bill Kenwright, who played her screen son Gordon, spoke of her being a 'juggernaut of love'.  Next came Brittan's 'Jubilate Deo', a reading from Matthew and two ecclesiastical addresses before the Lord's Prayer and Verdi's 'Requiem'.

Betty's personal assistant Charles Orr then introduced a recording of Betty singing - something he had insisted on (Betty never liked hearing her recordings).  She received a standing ovation from those gathered in the church as the sound of applause from the hundreds of fans waiting in the square outside was heard through the ancient walls.  The congregation left and the coffin was borne out of the church to 'Nun Danket'.

A beautiful blue sky awaited us as we emerged into St Ann's Square.  It was just as Betty had planned it - and it was truly beautiful.

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