Actress and the first barmaid of the Rovers Return

Born: February 5, 1926;

Died: December 31, 2017

DOREEN Keogh, who has died aged 91, was a popular character actress who had a particularly significant role on her CV: she was the very first barmaid of the Rovers Return, the pub in Coronation Street. She will also be remembered as the eccentric Irish neighbour in the sit-com The Royle Family.

Keogh was a regular presence on Coronation Street for the first four years, although she did not appear in the first episode in 1960 - her debut as Concepta Regan was in the fifth. A confidant of the Rovers imperious landlady Annie Walker, she appeared in 320 episodes in all, returning occasionally in the 1970s.

Her most memorable plotlines were the abduction of her son Christopher (he was later found by Elsie Tanner) and the death of her husband Harry, doomed to die under a pile of bricks while trying to fix Len Fairclough's van.

Keogh eventually left the show in 1964, a victim of one of the regular culls of incoming producers, but did return now and then. In 1967, she was a guest at Elsie's wedding to Steve Tanner. She also popped up again in 1972 and 1975 with a new husband in tow.

Keogh had joined the soap opera after a long and successful career on the stage. Born in Dublin, she left school when she was 15 to train at the Abbey Theatre School. Later she moved to London where her theatre career began to take off; she also made her first appearances in radio dramas.

She first appeared on television in the early 1950s and made her first of many appearances in soap in Emergency Ward 10 in 1960. As well as Coronation Street, she appeared in Crossroads and in the 1980s and 90s had a recurring role in the Irish soap opera Fair City.

Another memorable television appearance was as a friend of Mrs Doyle, the housekeeper in the sit-com Father Ted. The friends cannot agree who will pay for their tea and cake and end up fighting on the floor of the tea room and spending a night in the cells.

Keogh also had a supporting role as Mary Carroll in The Royle Family, which ran from 1998 until 2012. Other appearances included Cold Feet and Ballykissangel.

In a statement, John Whiston, ITV Studios' creative director, said Doreen Keogh had a unique place in the history of television as the Rovers' first barmaid. "There have been many barmaids in the Rovers over the years, dispensing pints and wisdom in equal measure," he said. "But Doreen played the first and so has the affection of all who watch The Street."

Doreen Keogh is survived by her husband Jack Jenner.