Royle Family Actress Caroline Aherne Dies Aged 52
2 July 2016, 17:59 | Updated: 2 July 2016, 18:45
The writer and star of the TV sitcom lost her battle with throat cancer today at her home in Timperley, her publicist has announced.
Aherne was also known for her alter ego Mrs Merton in the spoof chat show over four series between 1993 and 1998. The character was previously developed on local TV and radio in the North West, often appearing with the legendary Frank Sidebottom.
Noel Gallagher, whose song Half The World Away was used as the theme tune to The Royle Family, posted a tribute on Instagram. He's currently on tour in the US and will play Nashville this evening (2 July). "I shall sing for you tonight," he said.
Mrs Merton was best known for her cheeky interview with Debbie McGee, wife of the late magician Paul Daniels. She memorably opened her chat with the question: “What first attracted you to the millionaire Paul Daniels?”
Debbie McGee - who lost her husband Paul earlier this year - tweeted:
Just heard the very sad news about Caroline Ahearne she was wonderful especially as Mrs Merton. My interview will be a treasured memory RIP— Debbie McGee (@thedebbiemcgee) July 2, 2016
Caroline appeared in the popular sketch series The Fast Show between 1994 and 1997, portraying a number of famous characters, including the Chanel 9 weather girl Poula, whose catchphrase was “Scorchio”.
In 1998, she created the Manchester-based sitcom The Royle Family, in which she co-starred with co-writer Craig Cash, Ricky Tomlinson, Sue Johnston, Liz Smith and Ralf Little.
Sue Johnston said in a statement: “I am devastated at her passing and I am numb with grief”, while Little tweeted today:
A character. A legend. A boss. A sister, real and (for me) fake. A boss. A writer. An actor. A genius. A friend. Big, big heart. Goodbye. X— Ralf Little (@RalfLittle) July 2, 2016
The final episode of The Royle Family was broadcast on Christmas Day 2012. Some of Aherne’s most recent work was narrating the Channel 4 documentary series Gogglebox.
She was married to former Joy Division and New Order bassist Peter Hook between 1994 and 1997, with the musician fronting the house band on the Mrs Merton Show.
Aherne had her battles with depression and alcohol, and suffered with cancer throughout her life. She was born with a cancer of the retina that made her partially sighted in one eye, but also had treatment for bladder and lung cancer.
In April 2016, it was announced that Aherne was undergoing treatment for throat cancer.
Her Fast Show co-star Simon Day tweeted today:
She never moaned about being a women in comedy— simon day (@simonday24) July 2, 2016
Just wrote her own incredible Genuis characters and left the men behind