It doesn’t seem 40 years since Hilda Ogden hilariously took up art to motivate her habitually lazy husband Stan.

Of course it had no effect. Stan, exquisitely portrayed by actor Bernard Youens, was completely unmoved by Hilda’s efforts to improve the couple’s lot.

But the sight of actress Jean Alexander, singing tunelessly in front of her ‘muriel’ with palette in hand, remains one of Coronation Street’s most enduring comic images.

Equally doomed – and just as memorable – were Vera Duckworth’s attempts to keep philandering husband Jack on the straight and narrow.

Jack and Vera Duckworth, portrayed by Liz Dawn and Bill Tarmey, July 1987

Jack and Vera Duckworth, portrayed by Liz Dawn and Bill Tarmey, July 1987

And who could forget the saga of Mavis and Derek Wilton’s kidnapped gnome – along with the time the couple discovered Maureen Webster in Reg Holdsworth’s punctured waterbed!

But the Street’s favourite couples have seen their share of tragedy too. Alan Bradley’s death in Blackpool left wife Rita on a knife-edge.

Six-times married Gail Platt was driven into the canal by husband Richard Hillman and was wrongly imprisoned for the death of her partner Joe McInytre.

Most recently, the sheer menace of murderer Pat Phelan blighted the life of partner Eileen Grimshaw along with half the community of Weatherfield.

Sparring partners Norris Cole (Malcolm Hebden) and Blanche Hunt (Maggie Jones) in November 2002

Sparring partners Norris Cole (Malcolm Hebden) and Blanche Hunt (Maggie Jones) in November 2002

The most famous couple on Coronation Street, who lived through their fair share of tragedy and comedy, must surely be the Ogdens.

Alexander played Hilda in her trademark hair-rollers from 1964 to 1987. Always a bit of a gossip, the Rovers Return cleaner had a heart of gold and the worst singing voice in Weatherfield.

Alexander’s acting, like so many characters in the Granada TV soap, was exceptional. The scene where she weeps over her recently deceased husband’s spectacles has rightly been described as one of the most moving in TV history.

The Ogdens’ mantle was taken up by Jack and Vera Duckworth, played by Liz Dawn and Bill Tarmey.

Peter Baldwin and Thelma Barlow, who played Mavis and Derek Wilton, February 1991

Peter Baldwin and Thelma Barlow, who played Mavis and Derek Wilton, February 1991

Much of the couples’ humour revolved around Jack’s flings – he once set himself up on a dating site as alter-ego Vince St Claire only to find himself on a blind date with Vera!

Jack also had an affair with barmaid Bet Lynch (Julie Goodyear) leading to one of the Rovers’ most celebrated show-downs when Vera found out.

Although never married, the banter between Norris Cole (Malcolm Hebden) and acerbic Blanche Hunt (Maggie Jones) included some of the finest comic moments the Street has ever witnessed.

The humour continued when Mary Taylor (Patti Clare) arrived in Weatherfield as someone who shared Norris’s passion for entering competitions.

A young Martin Platt (Sean Wilson) and Jennie Bradley (Sally Ann Matthews) in December 1986

A young Martin Platt (Sean Wilson) and Jennie Bradley (Sally Ann Matthews) in December 1986

This led to Norris being mistaken for a transvestite when ladies underwear was discovered in one of his bin bags. He hurriedly explained it was nothing more than a competition prize!

Rita Sullivan (Barbara Knox) shared some wonderfully humorous exchanges with Norris as the pair swapped barbs behind the counter of The Kabin newsagents.

But life turned much tougher for Rita when her partner Alan Bradley (Mark Eden) almost killed her in a storyline that saw him trying to steal her money.

The episode, broadcast in March 1989, attracted more than 25 million viewers – one of the highest ratings in the programme’s history.

Tense drama between Rita Fairclough (Barbara Knox) and Alan Bradley (Mark Eden) in October 1989

Tense drama between Rita Fairclough (Barbara Knox) and Alan Bradley (Mark Eden) in October 1989

Bradley managed to evade prison and was famously killed by a tram after tracking Rita down to Blackpool.

His was introduced to the show as the father of Rita’s foster child Jenny, played by Sally Ann Matthews.

At the age of 17, Jenny ran off to France with Martin Platt (Sean Wilson) who was later to marry Gail. The elopement proved a disaster as Jenny met a French medical student who pursued her back to Weatherfield.

After leaving in 1993, Jenny is now back in the soap as the wife of businessman Johnny Connor (Richard Hawley) and landlady of the Rovers Return.

Sally and Kevin Webster, played by Sally Dynevor and Michael Le Vell, February 1988

Sally and Kevin Webster, played by Sally Dynevor and Michael Le Vell, February 1988

Coronation Street fans fondly remember Sally Metcalfe (Sally Dynevor) and Kevin Webster (Michael Le Vell) as a young couple who struggled against the odds – and Hilda’s disapproval – to be together.

Another favourite pairing were Steve McDonald, played by Simon Gregson and Karen Phillips, portrayed by Suranne Joes.

Sparks always flied between the two who married each other as a result of a bet from which neither party would back down.

Steve holds the title of being the Street’s most frequent bridegroom, having being married seven times to five women!

Simon Gregson and Suranne Jones, who played Steve and Karen McDonald, giving an acting class in Manchester, December 2003

Simon Gregson and Suranne Jones, who played Steve and Karen McDonald, giving an acting class in Manchester, December 2003