Megan Hopkins, her husband Cledwin, and their son Idris hailed from Wales. As an adult, Idris relocated to Weatherfield, married Vera, a Lancastrian, and gave Megan a granddaughter in Tricia. At some point after the death of her husband, Megan (or "Gran" to the family) followed her son to Weatherfield. With Idris working nights at a foundry, it was Vera who had to cope with Gran the most and some years before they moved to Coronation Street Gran's unreasonable behaviour caused Vera to have a nervous breakdown.
In July 1974, Idris and Vera took Gran to Coronation Street to view the corner shop, as Maggie Clegg was selling. Gran had previously ran a small chip shop. She thought the shop was pokey but went after it on the basis that, as Maggie had just married Ron Cooke and was emigrating to Zaire, and the sale was entrusted to her London-based son Gordon, that the Cleggs would want a quick sale and she could drive down the price. However, Gordon held them to £4,000 and with Gran refusing to go above £2,000, Vera came up with the solution of having the Hopkins rent the shop for £12 a week with the money coming off the purchase price of £3,500, with £450 for the stock. Gordon agreed and the family then moved into the shop's accommodation.
Gran quickly set her stamp on the place by sacking assistant Mavis Riley and giving Vera her job and then announcing to customers that they would be served any time. Vera was unhappy with this and Gran upset her further by getting Idris to back her up in refusing to have Vera's sick mother stay with them. As her mother needed full-time care, Vera was absent from the shop for two months while she nursed her, returning in September after she passed away.
Now 17, Tricia wasn't spared her grandmother's sermons. When Granny found a polaroid of Tricia and builder Ray Langton, she got Idris to warn Ray off her and locked Tricia in her room while she subjected her to a moral preaching.
Gran planned to buy the shop outright as soon as she could afford it but her hand was forced when Gordon received a good offer from another buyer. Gran's unit trusts had just gone down in value and the bank manager Mr. Morgan refused her a £1,000 loan, and so the Hopkins stood to lose the shop. They were granted a reprieve when Vera returned with her £1,000 inheritance, which she agreed to put into the shop. Gran agreed on principle that Vera would be in charge of the shop, which was then named "V and M Hopkins", but in practice she carried on as if it were hers.
Always scheming, Granny wanted to replace Maggie's furniture with Vera's mother's, and demanded Gordon pay her a storage fee of £4 per week when he said no. Eventually Maggie's sister Betty Turpin decided to sell the furniture but while emptying the sideboard Gran found Gordon's birth certificate, which gave his mother's name as Elizabeth Preston. Gran investigated and found out from Minnie Caldwell that Preston was Betty's maiden name, from which she deduced that Gordon was actually Betty's son and that Gordon didn't know. Gran and Vera gave the certificate to Betty and assured her that they wouldn't tell anyone, but while Betty trusted Vera to keep the information to herself, she wasn't so sure about Gran. When Gran tried to drive down the price of the stock, Vera and Idris out-voted her to accept Maggie's offer, much to her anger. Granny waited for an opportunity to use her knowledge to her advantage and in February she wrote to Gordon telling him the truth to spite Betty after she demanded a refund on an off-tin of mincemeat. The Hopkins were shocked when Gordon turned up at the shop brandishing the letter and told them that he'd known for a while that he was Betty's son. When Granny threatened to tell the whole street, Gordon decided not to sign the final contract for the shop, despite pleas from Vera and Idris. The argument left Vera and Idris feeling too ashamed to remain in Coronation Street and the family left in a van that night. They settled in Vera's mother's house in Firbank Road on the other side of Weatherfield.
Granny Hopkins went about Coronation Street with a scowl and was cold to nearly everyone she met. She displayed a warmer attitude with (paying) customers and when buttering someone up, but this was merely a front and her attitudes towards Betty Turpin and Gordon Clegg, and the threats made to both, showed her to be bitter, vindictive, and grasping. Gran made no apologies for the way she was, and on the few occasions when she appeared to back down she was merely biding her time.
Jessie Evans first appeared in Coronation Street in the minor role of Mrs Cook in 1967. In 1974, she was cast as Megan Hopkins, head of the Hopkins family who were being introduced as the new proprietors of the corner shop following the departure of Irene Sutcliffe as Maggie Clegg. Vera and Tricia Hopkins had appeared in 1973 and were brought back full-time along with the newly-created Idris and Megan, known to the family as "Gran".
As Violet Carson had recently left the programme due to ill health, Kathy Staff, who played Vera, hoped that her character would become Coronation Street's resident harridan replacing Ena Sharples however Granny filled that role instead. Staff attributed this to the casting of Granny: "Unfortunately, it was Jessie Evans that they got in to play my mother-in-law. And I was in between her and the rest of the people in the Street trying to keep the peace, because she did some rather nasty things." (The Coronation Street Story, Boxtree Ltd, 1995)
The character was most frequently credited as "Granny Hopkins".
First and last lines
"That's her then, is it?" (First line, referring to Maggie Clegg)
"I only speak the truth, don't I? What's wrong with that?" (Final line)
List of addresses
|Weatherfield||Prior to 1974|
|Corner Shop||July 1974 to 10th February 1975|
|Firbank Road||February 1975 onwards|
|Manager||Chip shop||Prior to July 1974|
|Assistant||Corner Shop||July 1974 to 10th February 1975|