Telly star Ricky Tomlinson choked back tears as he paid a heartbreaking tribute to his beloved pal Caroline Aherne.
Ricky, who played Caroline’s layabout dad in The Royle Family, was left reeling after cancer claimed the comedy star at the age of just 52.
He said: “I’m so bloody shocked. She was absolutely wonderful and amazing to work for. Kind, funny, witty. A true professional and one of the most generous people I ever worked with.”
In an emotional interview Ricky told the Sunday Mirror that Caroline “never once complained”.
Ricky Tomlinson as Jim Royle Caroline Aherne as Denise Royle and Sue Johnston as Barbara Royle
The much-loved star revealed two years ago that she had been diagnosed with lung cancer, having previously had bladder and eye cancer.
But Ricky, 76, said: “She never talked about her health, ever. I can never ever remember her complaining. She must have gone through a lot but I never saw her looking unwell. She never flagged in work and the atmosphere when she was writing and acting was brilliant.”
Telly fans across Britain joined the showbiz world in shedding a collective tear as news of Caroline’s death was announced.
Her publicist Neil Reading said in a statement: “Caroline Aherne has sadly passed away, after a brave battle with cancer. The BAFTA award-winning writer and comedy actor died earlier today at her home in Timperley, Greater Manchester. She was 52.”
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Caroline became a national treasure in the 1990s when she played the mischievous, twinkly-eyed, blue-rinse chat show host Mrs Merton.
She also starred in The Fast Show – and more recently narrated Channel 4’s hit series Gogglebox.
Fiercely-private Caroline had to miss a number of episodes as she fought illness.
But Ricky, who is friends with Caroline’s older brother Patrick – who also fought cancer – believed her health had been improving.
He said: “Her death is the biggest shock in the world. It’s knocked me for six. Patrick said she was in good spirits last time we spoke. We were planning to meet in a pub in Manchester where I was doing a little talk two weeks ago, but he didn’t show up. Someone said: ‘Everything’s fine. He’s gone back to Spain.’ And I thought that’s good… she must be on the mend because he wouldn’t have gone away if she was ill.”
Ricky also spoke to Caroline’s fellow Royle Family creator Craig Cash just weeks ago Read in full