Vera married foundry worker Idris Hopkins and had a daughter, Tricia, in 1957. The Hopkins were a close-knit family, with Vera and Idris keeping a close eye on Tricia and Idris's mother Megan, known to the family as "Gran", keeping an even closer eye on them, so much so that some years before their arrival in Coronation Street, Vera had a nervous breakdown caused by the unreasonable behaviour of her mother-in-law.
In September 1973, Vera found out that Tricia and her friend Lindsay Mather had been drinking underage at the Rovers Return, and marched Tricia over to the establishment in her school uniform to row with Annie Walker for serving her. Annie gave Vera a dressing down for not knowing what her daughter got up to, and barred the Hopkinses from the pub.
In February 1974, when a private housing company based in London submitted plans to the council to redevelop a chunk of Weatherfield, including the area where the Hopkinses lived and Gran ran a small chip shop, the family faced losing their home. Protesters in Coronation Street formed an action group and a public meeting was held at the Community Centre, which councillor Alf Roberts attended under pressure. Residents of neighbouring streets were invited along and Vera was among those present. Initially silent but becoming increasingly boisterous as the meeting wore on, Vera suggested a petition of no confidence in their local councillor Len Fairclough. Her idea was taken up and the petition reached 100 names in one hour. Ultimately, the redevelopment plan was thrown out by the committee with Len voting against it.
Just five weeks later, Vera was part of a committee panel interviewing for a new caretaker at the Centre, along with Alf, Emily and Ernest Bishop, and Mr Rogers. Vera and Mr Rogers was impressed by Hilda and Stan Ogden but, knowing they would be terrible caretakers, Alf and the Bishops swayed them towards Gertie Robson, who got the job.
The Hopkinses returned to the street in July to buy the Corner Shop with the intention that Vera and Granny would run it. Neither was impressed with the shop, labelling it poky, but they went after it anyway as Gran hoped that with the owner Maggie Cooke moving to Zaire and leaving it in the hands of her son Gordon, who was based in London, they would want the shop sold quickly and the Hopkins could get it at a knockdown 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 Hopkinses 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.
Vera and Gran fought for superiority at the shop and after three weeks Vera packed it in to look after her sick mother on the other side of Weatherfield. In September, her mother passed away and Vera returned to the shop. With her inheritance money, Vera put £1,000 towards the purchase of the shop, making her the boss over Gran. However, the arguments continued as Gran carried on as though the shop were hers.
In November, the Hopkins decided to replace Maggie's old furniture with Vera's mother's as Vera was paying £3 a week for storage. While emptying the Cleggs' sideboard, Granny found Gordon's birth certificate stuck to the back of a drawer. The birth certificate disclosed the fact that Gordon's mother wasn't Maggie Clegg but her sister Betty Turpin - a fact known only to Betty and Maggie. Vera and Idris assured Betty that her secret was safe with them, but Vera knew that Granny couldn't be trusted, especially with Gordon and Maggie visiting for Christmas. 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.
Vera was a kindly woman and was generally liked in Coronation Street. Though outspoken herself, in the shadow of Granny Hopkins she appeared reasonable and empathetic. She never shied away from putting Gran in her place although she usually required Idris's support for her opposition to have any effect on her.
Vera Hopkins was a recurring role for Kathy Staff beginning with Episode 1325 in September 1973. Staff had previously appeared in Coronation Street as a customer in Frank Barlow's DIY shop in 1963, Mrs Thacker in 1968 and Mrs Helliwell in 1971.
In her first appearance, Vera appeared alongside her daughter Tricia Hopkins, played by Kathy Jones. Vera appeared sans Tricia in three more episodes in the first half of 1974. When actress Irene Sutcliffe left the programme, writers decided to break with tradition and put a family in the Corner Shop. Vera and Tricia were brought back full-time, accompanied by Vera's husband Idris and his domineering mother Megan, known to the family as "Granny". As Violet Carson had recently left the programme due to ill health, Staff hoped that Vera would become Coronation Street's resident harridan however Granny Hopkins filled that role instead. Staff: "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)
At the time she signed for Coronation Street full-time, Kathy Staff was due to record the new series of the BBC sitcom Last of the Summer Wine, in which she played the role of Nora Batty. Vera was written out for two months between July and September to cover her absence.
The Hopkins family proved unpopular with viewers and, aside from Tricia, they left the programme in February 1975. Staff: "I think it was because they were Welsh and grandma was always making trouble. It was certainly something different, having people in it who weren't Lancashire. Unfortunately it did not work out." (The Coronation Street Story) Due to the Hopkins' brief tenure and Kathy Staff's two-month break, Vera has among the fewest appearances of any Coronation Street regular, surpassed only by Sue Clayton in 1985.
First and last lines
"I'll give you 'mum'." (First line, to daughter Tricia)
"Don’t bother me love, it's been a bad day." (Final line, also to Tricia)
List of addresses
|Corner Shop||July 1974 to 10th February 1975|
|Firbank Road||February 1975 onwards|
|Manager||Corner Shop||July 1974 to 10th February 1975|