Bernard Youens

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Bernard Youens
Born Bernard Arthur Popley
(1914-12-28)28 December 1914
Hove, Sussex, England, UK
Died 27 August 1984(1984-08-27) (aged 69)
England, UK
Nationality British
Occupation Actor
Years active 1956–84
Employer ITV
Television Coronation Street
Spouse(s) Edna Swallow (m. 193784)
Children 5

Bernard Youens (born Bernard Arthur Popley; 28 December 1914 – 27 August 1984) was an English character actor, best remembered for his portrayal of the workshy, beer-swilling Stan Ogden in Coronation Street from 1964 until his death in 1984.

Early life[edit]

Born in Hove, Sussex, as Bernard Arthur Popley, "Bunny" Youens (as he was nicknamed) began his stage career as a 16-year-old after becoming assistant stage manager at the Players Theatre in Newcastle upon Tyne. Youens was from a working class family who had no theatre connections. He went on to spend much of the 1930s honing his craft in repertory theatre. His acting career was interrupted by World War II, during which he served in North Africa and Anzio. He was wounded by shrapnel in his right leg in Anzio in February 1944. He returned to rep after the war, while also working as a publican, bread salesman, van driver and a labourer.


He was a member of Frank Fortesque's Players after the war. Bernard "Bunny" Graham, (Youens then used Graham as a stage name; Bunny was his wife's pet name for him) appears in the film Cup-Tie Honeymoon, a Mancunian Films production, with Betty Jumel. [1] This was the first film to be shot at their Rusholme Studio in Manchester, with exteriors filmed at Maine Road football ground and Abney Hall in Cheadle. In the film, veteran comedian Sandy Powell performed one of his stage sketches, The Soldier’s Return Home, with a young actress, Pat Pilkington who later became famous as Pat Phoenix in Coronation Street. Despite dreadful reviews the film was a huge success in the North West.

Television career[edit]

Youens's television breakthrough came in 1956 when, as a continuity announcer for Granada Television, which had just been launched, he became popular for his velvet-voiced tones — a marked contrast to the character for which he would become famous. Youens also took minor roles in a number of ITV series at the time, although he declined the chance to audition for Coronation Street when it launched in 1960, preferring the security of his announcer's role, before eventually passing an audition in 1964. He uttered the words "A pint of mild and 20 fags, missus" in June that year and a small screen legend was born. His role resulted in considerable celebrity, and he was often engaged to open fetes and stores (such as the re-opened FW Woolworth in South Shields in 1970.)

When asked what he thought when a national British newspaper had dubbed his character "the uncrowned king of the non-working classes", he replied: "Stan is my creation and I am proud of him." Youens was delighted to meet Sir John Betjeman, then the Poet Laureate, who had for many years expressed a desire to meet "Hilda and her ghastly husband". Meet they did, and Youens often commented that Betjeman, bounding around the studios meeting everyone "like a schoolboy" was a fond memory. Laurence Olivier also expressed a wish to appear in the programme. This was scheduled in a January 1978 episode in which Olivier was to play an unpublicised part as a tramp. Olivier's itinerary precluded that, and, in the bar at Granada TV, Youens told him "I'm so sorry I couldn't appear opposite you", to which Olivier replied: "Not as sorry as I am."

In May 1982 Youens met the Queen when she visited the set of Coronation Street. On 23 January 1984 he and Jean Alexander attended a showbusiness reception at number 10 Downing Street with other Coronation Street Stars.

Illness and death[edit]

In 1972 Youens suffered a heart attack, and then in 1975 he suffered a stroke which left him with a speech difficulty though speech therapy eradicated some of this. The writers brought in Geoffrey Hughes as a lodger for Stan and Hilda (Jean Alexander) to reduce Youens's dialogue and therefore Youens was able to retain his role.

His final ever on-screen Street appearance was on 7 March 1984, although it was thought at this stage that he would appear again. Having suffered most of his later life with severe arthritis in the neck and knees, Youens was taken into hospital in early April 1984 with the condition. He then suffered a minor stroke in May 1984. Youens subsequently contracted gangrene in his left leg in July, resulting in amputation. Bernard died peacefully in his sleep on the afternoon of 27 August 1984. He was 69 years old.

The decision to kill off his character was made by ITV bosses soon after Youens died, and on 21 November 1984 it was revealed in the programme that Stan had died in hospital as a result of the character's gangrene.


Bernard married Edna Swallow, known as "Teddy", in Halifax on 21 September 1937.

They had two daughters and three sons. His children are Ann Sharples, Diana Kenyon, Peter Popley, Brian Popley and Michael Popley. His youngest son, Michael, was a film cameraman on many episodes of Coronation Street. His grandson, John, has followed in his footsteps and is highly successful in the entertainment business - with his comedy show 'Bitter and Twisted', which has won awards in the Canary Islands.

Edna outlived him by 17 years, dying in July 2001 at the age of 88.[1]


  1. ^ "Descendants of Joshua SWALLOW & Alice TAYLOR - Fourth Generation (continued) - Notes". Retrieved 2011-11-08. 

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