Royle Family star Caroline Aherne dies, aged 52

The actor, comedian and writer, creator of Mrs Merton and narrator of Gogglebox, passed away after a battle with cancer, her agent has said

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Comedian and actor Caroline Aherne, best known as the writer and star of The Royle Family, has died aged 52, her publicist has confirmed.

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“Caroline Aherne has sadly passed away, after a brave battle with cancer,” said a statement from Neil Reading.

“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.”

The Royle Family, which Aherne co-wrote and starred in with Craig Cash, ran for three series between 1998 and 2000. Set almost entirely in the confines of the Royles’ front room, it affectionately charted the foibles and mundanities of ordinary family life, and held a special place in the hearts of viewers, returning for five more specials between 2006 and 2012.

Aherne was also known for creating and playing Mrs Merton, the OAP chat show host who used her supposed naivety to ask notoriously near-the-knuckle questions of her guests. Perhaps the best-known of those was addressed to Debbie McGee: “So, what first attracted you to the millionaire Paul Daniels?”

Aherne’s then husband, Peter Hook of New Order, led the house band on The Mrs Merton Show.

More recently, Aherne’s voice has been a Friday-night fixture of Channel 4, where she narrated reality show Gogglebox.

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Aherne had battled with several forms of cancer during her life but had most recently been treated for throat cancer.