Notorious for her fondness for leopard print and blonde beehive, Julie Goodyear played Bet Lynch, the queen of the Rovers Return in UK soap opera Coronation Street for 25 years.

The peroxide blonde actress's final episode of Coronation Street in 1995 was watched by 19 million viewers, one-third of the UK population.

As Goodyear explained to Kirsty Young on BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs, as soon as she saw the TV soap, she understood it, as it was the life she had lived.

Much of the interview focused on the key female figures in Goodyear's life; her grandmother was a spiritualist and much of her childhood was spent with her. The death of her beloved grandmother was described by Goodyear as one of the most devastating events of her life.

"She drowned in the local canal and I went into shock. My mother stopped eating and anorexia hadn't been heard of then but that's absolutely what it was. Shock can do terrible things.

"The verdict was accidental death. I couldn't cry. It was many years later before I did."

One of the more unlikely friendships she struck up was with Sir Laurence Olivier. He taught her useful thespian tricks such as how to vomit on cue in five seconds.

The renowned Shakespearean actor also made a startling confession to Goodyear. "He told me he wanted to play a tramp with a plot line that he came into the Rovers Return for me to throw him out," the soap actress said.

Her real-life dramas were often more extreme than the Coronation Street plotlines. Goodyear has been married four times, and her second husband, Tony Rudman, left her on their wedding day for the best man.

Her desert island choices included Nancy Sinatra's These Boots are Made for Walkin' and the book Jonathan Livingston Seagull. Her luxury item was sentimental - her late mother's bus pass.

When asked how she would like to be remembered, the 70-year-old actress said: "If anyone should be interested in an epitaph for my life, I would like them to consider, 'At least she tried.'"