Geoffrey Hughes

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Geoffrey Hughes
File:Geoffrey Hughes.jpg
Geoffrey Hughes as he appeared in TV's Heartbeat.
Born (1944-02-02)2 February 1944
Wallasey, Cheshire,[1] England[2]
Died 27 July 2012(2012-07-27) (aged 68)[3]
Isle of Wight, England
Cause of death Prostate cancer
Occupation Actor
Years active 1966–2010
Spouse(s) Susan Hughes[4] (?—2012; his death)

Geoffrey Hughes DL (2 February 1944, Wallasey, Cheshire – 27 July 2012, Isle of Wight) was an English television, film and stage actor.

Hughes rose to fame for portraying much-loved binman Eddie Yeats in the popular long-running British soap opera Coronation Street from 1974 to 1983, making a return to the show in 1987. He went on to appear in two popular British television sitcoms during the 1990s, playing loveable slob Onslow in Roy Clarke's Keeping Up Appearances (1990–95) followed by Twiggy in Craig Cash and Caroline Aherne's The Royle Family (1998–2000), the latter of which he reprised his role for specials in 2006 and 2008.

From 2001 to 2005 he played Vernon Scripps, conman and loveable rogue, on the ITV police drama Heartbeat (2001–05), taking over as the show's main loveable rogue from Bill Maynard, and returning to the show briefly in 2007 after the character was thought dead.

In 1996 Hughes was diagnosed with prostate cancer, and in 2010 he suffered a cancer relapse which led him to retire from acting. He died from the illness, aged 68, in 2012


Hughes attended Ranworth Square Primary School, Liverpool until the age of 11. He then went to Abbotsford Secondary Modern School in Norris Green, Liverpool. He started his career in repertory at the Victoria Theatre in Stoke-on-Trent. This was followed by his first West End production, the Lionel Bart and Alun Owen musical Maggie May. His other West End productions included the stage version of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Say Goodnight to Grandma, The Secret Life of Cartoons and several seasons of Run for your Wife. He recently[when?] played "Pistol" in an open air production of Henry V at Barnwell Manor. He also toured extensively in Britain and abroad. He had relatives in Shetland.

Among his many other appearances on television are: An Arrow for Little Audrey; The Saint; Shadows of Fear; Z-Cars; Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased); Flying Lady; Making Out; Coasting; Doctor Who; Spender; and Boon. He played 'Trinculo' in an all filmed version of The Tempest for the BBC and 'Squire Clodpoll' in Good Friday 1663, one of Channel Four's new avant-garde operas. His comedy appearances on TV include The Likely Lads, Please Sir!, Dad's Army, Curry and Chips, No, Honestly, The Upper Hand and the character of Onslow in the BBC sitcom Keeping Up Appearances.

Hughes' film credits included Smashing Time (1967), The Bofors Gun (1968), Till Death Us Do Part (1969), The Virgin Soldiers (1969), The Man Who Had Power Over Women (1970), Revenge (1971), Carry on at Your Convenience (1971), Adolf Hitler: My Part in His Downfall (1973), Tiffany Jones (1973), Confessions of a Driving Instructor (1976) and Nijinsky (1980). He was also the voice of Paul McCartney in the Beatles' 1968 cartoon film Yellow Submarine.

In 1974 Hughes was cast as binman Eddie Yeats in the long-running soap opera Coronation Street. Over the next nine years he became, with Stan Ogden (as played by Bernard Youens), a foil to Stan's long-suffering wife Hilda (Jean Alexander). Many fans still regard these performances as a high point in the soap's history. He left the series in 1983, making a brief final return appearance in 1987 as part of Hilda's departure from the series. In recent[clarification needed] years he was offered the opportunity to return to the show, but declined.

Hughes usually appeared in pantomime over the Christmas period.[citation needed] He appeared on That Antony Cotton Show on 6 September 2007, in which he spoke about his role in a short film called Expresso, which also starred Sir Norman Wisdom. Hughes played the part of a man who visits a coffee shop for a "normal" coffee but is served by a pompous waiter. The film was sold in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support.

In 2007 he performed the Angel Gabriel in the BBC production Liverpool Nativity.[5] From 2007, he also appeared in the first three series of the E4 drama Skins as a recurring character best known as Uncle Keith.

At Christmas 2008, he returned to play Twiggy in The Royle Family's Christmas Special titled "The New Sofa".

In 2009, he played Frank in Tim Firth's Absolutely Frank at Oldham's Coliseum Theatre.

Television roles

Year Title Role
1969 Please Sir – Series 2 Episode 1: They're off Turner
1969 Curry and Chips Dick
1970 Up Pompeii! – Episode 1: Vestal Virgins Piteous
1971 Carry On at Your Convenience As Willie
1972 Dad's Army – 1 Episode: Brain Versus Brawn the Bridge Corporal
1974–83, 1987 Coronation Street Eddie Yeats
1985 The Bright Side Mr. Lithgow
1986 Doctor WhoThe Trial of a Time Lord, parts 13 & 14 Mr. Popplewick
1990–95 Keeping Up Appearances Onslow
1993 I, Lovett Dirk
1995 The Smiths Dooley
1998–2000, 2006, 2008 The Royle Family Twiggy
2001–05, 2007 Heartbeat Vernon Scripps
2007–09 Skins Fat Bastard, Brandy, Uncle Keith

Personal life

Hughes' off-stage interests were sailing, golf, cricket, rock music, trees and beer. Born in Wallasey, on the Wirral in Cheshire,[1] to parents Ada and Bill, he had one younger brother Gordon and was brought up in Liverpool. He is survived by his wife, whom he first met in the Navigation Inn at Buxworth in the High Peak of Derbyshire, then owned and run by Pat Phoenix (Elsie Tanner in Coronation Street).

Hughes was also the Honorary Squire of the Dartington Morris Men and made an appearance at the Dartington Morris Ring meeting in September 2008. His musical interests included English folk-rock and he compered at Fairport's Cropredy Convention annual music festival several times.[6]


Hughes received a diagnosis of prostate cancer in 1996 while he was playing Onslow in Keeping Up Appearances.[7] He died from the illness on 27 July 2012.[8] He thought he had beaten the cancer, but in 2010, while attending a charity event, he suffered from extreme back pains, so painful he couldn't even stand up. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer again. Doctors said that he died "peacefully in his sleep".[9]


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Cheshire" is correct - "Merseyside" did not exist prior to 01/04/1974
  2. Craig Manning (30 July 2012). "Tributes to Wirral-born Coronation Street star". The Wirral Globe. Retrieved 31 July 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Mike Keegan. "Actor Geoffrey Hughes – Coronation Street's Eddie Yates – dies aged 68". Retrieved 28 July 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Colin Robertson; Alex Peake (4 August 2010). "Wife's bedside vigil for Corrie's Eddie... but pals fear the worst". The Sun. London. Retrieved 19 August 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "New nativity story played to city". BBC. 16 December 2007. Retrieved 26 December 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Fairport's Cropredy Convention Official Souvenir Programme 2007; Fairport's Cropredy Convention Official Souvenir Programme; 2008, page 1
  7. "Geoffrey Hughes – Obituary". The Daily Telegraph. London. 29 July 2012. Retrieved 29 July 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Coronation Street actor Geoffrey Hughes dies aged 68". BBC News. 28 July 2012. Retrieved 28 July 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Jones, Cass (28 July 2012). "Actor Geoffrey Hughes dies aged 68". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 29 July 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links