Geoffrey Hughes

Geoffrey Hughes DL (2 February 1944 – 27 July 2012) was an English actor. Hughes provided the voice of Paul McCartney in the animated film Yellow Submarine (1968), and rose to fame for portraying much-loved binman Eddie Yeats in the long-running British soap opera Coronation Street from 1974 to 1983, making a return to the show in 1987. However, he is best known for playing loveable slob Onslow in the British sitcom Keeping Up Appearances (1990–95). Later, he appeared in the sitcom The Royle Family playing the part of 'Twiggy' (1998–2000), in the latter of which reprising his role for the specials in 2006 and 2008.

Geoffrey Hughes

Hughes as he appeared in Heartbeat
Born(1944-02-02)2 February 1944
Died27 July 2012(2012-07-27) (aged 68)[2]
Isle of Wight, England
Years active1966–2010
Spouse(s)Susan Hughes[3] (?–2012; his death)

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

Hughes was diagnosed with prostate cancer in the 1990s, and in 2010 he suffered a cancer relapse which led him to retire from acting. He died from the illness, aged 68, in 2012.

Life and career

Hughes was born in Wallasey, Cheshire, to parents Ada and Bill. He had one younger brother, Gordon, and was brought up in Liverpool, where he attended Ranworth Square Primary School. 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 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 a 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), Nijinsky (1980), and Flick (2008). 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). He left the series in 1983, making a brief final return appearance in 1987 as part of Hilda's departure from the series. In later years he was offered the opportunity to return to the show, but declined.

Hughes usually appeared in pantomime over the Christmas period.[4] 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 the Coliseum Theatre in Oldham.

Personal life

Hughes' off-stage interests were sailing, golf, cricket, rock music, trees and beer. He 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 British folk rock and he compered at Fairport's Cropredy Convention annual music festival several times.[6]

In 2009 he was appointed Deputy Lieutenant of the Isle of Wight.[7]


Hughes received a diagnosis of prostate cancer in 1996.[8] He died from the illness on 27 July 2012.[9]

He thought he had beaten the cancer, but in 2010, he collapsed at home with extreme back pain. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer again. Doctors said that he died "peacefully in his sleep".[10] He is survived by his wife Sue.[11]

Television roles

1969Please Sir – Series 2 Episode 1: They're OffTurner
1969Curry and ChipsDick
1970Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) – Episode 17: Somebody Just Walked Over My GraveHarper
1970Up Pompeii! – Episode 1: Vestal VirginsPiteous
1971Carry On at Your Convenience As Willie
1972Dad's Army – 1 Episode: Brain Versus Brawnthe Bridge Corporal
1974–83, 1987Coronation StreetEddie Yeats
1975Don't Drink the Water – Series 2 Episode 3: "Helping Hand" Frank
1985The Bright SideMr. Lithgow
1986Doctor WhoThe Trial of a Time Lord, parts 13 & 14Mr. Popplewick
1990 You Rang M’Lord? Sir Fred Kendal
1990–95Keeping Up AppearancesOnslow
1993I, LovettDirk
1995The SmithsDooley
1998–2000, 2006, 2008The Royle FamilyTwiggy
2001–05, 2007HeartbeatVernon Scripps
2007–09SkinsFat B*stard, Brandy, Uncle Keith


  1. Craig Manning (30 July 2012). "Tributes to Wirral-born Coronation Street star". The Wirral Globe. Retrieved 31 July 2012.
  2. Mike Keegan (28 July 2012). "Actor Geoffrey Hughes – Coronation Street's Eddie Yates – dies aged 68". Retrieved 28 July 2012.
  3. 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.
  4. Weston, Alan (5 August 2010). "Geoffrey Hughes career on stage, TV and screen". Liverpool Echo. Retrieved 16 October 2019.
  5. "New nativity story played to city". BBC. 16 December 2007. Retrieved 26 December 2009.
  6. Fairport's Cropredy Convention Official Souvenir Programme 2007; Fairport's Cropredy Convention Official Souvenir Programme; 2008, page 1
  7. "Geoffrey Hughes: Versatile actor who was happy to be cast as the lovable scouser". 30 July 2012. Retrieved 13 August 2018.
  8. Shepherd, Melinda C. (23 July 2019). "Geoffrey Hughes". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 6 September 2019.
  9. "Coronation Street actor Geoffrey Hughes dies aged 68". BBC News. 28 July 2012. Retrieved 28 July 2012.
  10. Jones, Cass (28 July 2012). "Actor Geoffrey Hughes dies aged 68". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 29 July 2012.
  11. Hayward, Anthony (29 July 2012). "Geoffrey Hughes obituary". The Guardian. Scott Trust. Archived from the original on 14 July 2019. Retrieved 6 September 2019.

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