Caroline Aherne, actor and comedian, dies aged 52

Bafta award-winning writer of the Royle Family died at home in Manchester after suffering from cancer, says publicist

Caroline Aherne, the award-winning actor and comedian, has died at the age of 52 after suffering from cancer, her publicist has said.

Aherne, who co-wrote, directed and starred in The Royle Family, revealed two years ago she had been undergoing treatment for lung cancer in her home city of Manchester. She was born with a rare form of retina cancer and later received treatment for bladder cancer.

Caroline Aherne has sadly passed away after a brave battle with cancer, her publicist Neil Reading said. The Bafta award-winning writer and comedy actor died earlier today at her home in Timperley, Greater Manchester. She was 52. The family ask for privacy at this very sad time.

Caroline Aherne, with her Royle Family co-stars Ralf Little, Craig Cash, Sue Johnston, Ricky Tomlinson and Liz Smith. Photograph: ITV/Rex/Shutterstock

Aherne created some of British comedys best-loved characters: lazy daughter Denise in The Royle Family, acerbic chat show host Mrs Merton which first aired on BBC2 in 1995 and memorable Fast Show characters such as the Checkout Girl and Poula Fisch, a TV weather girl in an unnamed country where the sun was always scorchio!

The Royle Family was created after she and friend Craig Cash, who played gormless Dave Best in the show, threw themselves into their work after a suicide attempt by Aherne, which she described as her lowest ebb. The show won four gongs at the 1999 British Comedy Awards including best actress for Aherne.

The Mrs Merton Christmas Show won the best talk show Bafta in 1997, while The Royle Family collected best sitcom award in 2000 and 2007. Aherne was nominated for Baftas for her performance in both shows, as well as her directing of The Royle Family in 2001.

Caroline Aherne as Mrs Merton (right) with guests Kriss Akabusi and Debbie McGee. Photograph: ITV/Rex/Shutterstock

Tributes from those Aherne worked with have been flooding in.

Sue Johnston, who played Ahernes characters mother, Barbara, in The Royle Family, said: I am devastated at her passing and I am numb with grief.

Ralf Little, who starred alongside Aherne as brother Antony in the hit sitcom, tweeted:

Ralf Little (@RalfLittle) July 2, 2016

Sorry for silence – I just… don’t know what to say. What a sad, sad day. We’ve lost another one of our best.

Coronation Street star Andrew Whyment, who played Darren on The Royle Family, tweeted:

Andrew whyment (@andywhyment81) July 2, 2016

So sad 2 hear the passing of Caroline Aherne it was a privilege to have worked with her on the Royle Family very talented woman indeed RIP X

Debbie McGee, the widow of magician Paul Daniels, said that Ahernes death was very sad news. McGee was on the receiving end of one of Mrs Mertons most famous lines, when she was asked in a 1995 episode: What first attracted you to the millionaire Paul Daniels?

McGee tweeted: Just heard the very sad news about Caroline Aherne, she was wonderful especially as Mrs Merton. My interview will be a treasured memory RIP.

BBC director general Tony Hall said: She was a brilliant, award winning comedy writer and performer, much loved by audiences especially for The Royle Family and Mrs Merton and for her wonderful voicing of many shows. Our thoughts are with her family and friends.

Helen Lederer (@HelenLederer) July 2, 2016

A loss to comedy : genius edgy dangerous RIP Caroline Aherne

David Baddiel (@Baddiel) July 2, 2016

Caroline Aherne…man, that’s done me in. That’s really done me in.

David Baddiel (@Baddiel) July 2, 2016

The talent, you all knew about. But she was a really lovely woman. Vulnerable and complex and damaged but…lovely. #CarolineAherneRIP

terry christian (@terrychristian) July 2, 2016

So blessed to have known and worked with her from 1990 onwards most naturally funny person I’ve ever met R.I.P Caroline Aherne

terry christian (@terrychristian) July 2, 2016

I was guest on the pilot of The Mrs Merton Show in 1992 -only ever aired in NW Region, Caroline was brilliant

Noel Gallagher of Oasis, whose song Half the World Away was used as The Royle Familys theme tune, posted his tribute on Instagram.

The daughter of Irish immigrants Bert and Maureen, Aherne grew up on a council estate in Wythenshawe, Manchester, and her first job was answering phones at BBC offices in the city.

Both Aherne and her older brother Patrick were born with the rare form of retina cancer which she was treated for into her 20s. She then underwent treatment for bladder cancer, the same disease that later took the life of her boyfriend Matt Bower in 1997.

The actors illness first came to light in 2014 when she agreed to take part in an appeal in Manchester that was asking patients and carers to help improve standards of care. In pledging her support she said: Ive had cancer and my brothers had cancer and we know how it affects people.

Aherne, who had been a smoker, also spoke of her battles with depression and alcohol, following the breakdown of her marriage to former New Order member Peter Hook, the death of her father, and struggles with fame. She spent time at the Priory clinic before moving to Australia to escape the public eye.

She made her return to TV in 2014 as the narrator of popular Channel 4 show Gogglebox. She was forced to take time off from narrating the show earlier this year while she received treatment for the disease.

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