Coronation Street and The Two Ronnies actress Dilys Watling dies aged 78

The Tony-nominated actor passed away last week after a long illness.

Dilys Watling

Coronation Street star Dilys Watling has died aged 78.

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The actor, who was best known for playing Merle Baker in the ITV soap in 1966 and for appearing in the The Two Ronnies, passed away on 10th August after a long illness.

Watling’s brother and Clacton MP Giles Watling paid tribute to the Corrie star, saying: “Dilys was a much-loved sister and was the eldest of the five of us.

“She led the way and was a real trailblazer for the rest of us,” he added. “She took Broadway by storm in the late 1960s, playing the eponymous role of Georgy – and we were proud when she was nominated for a Tony Award.”

She also released a couple of singles, including Don’t Say You Love Me, which made it into the charts in 1964.

“She was eccentric in many ways, but was always incredibly generous, warm and loving.

“In her last few days, she recounted stories of her life that we thought she had long-since forgotten,” he continued. “After a long illness, she passed away peacefully.”

Watling began her career in the theatre, receiving a Tony Award nomination for her performance in 1970’s Georgy on Broadway. She went on to appear in Sweeney Todd in the West End and rock musical Time in 1986.

As for her TV credits, Watling appeared in Mr Rose, The Two Ronnies, The Morecambe & Wise Show, Paul Temple, Sykes, Never Mind the Quality, Feel the Width, Twice a Fortnight and The Bill.

Watling played Merle Baker on Coronation Street between August and September 1966, before going on to appear in an episode of the ITV soap’s spin-off Pardon the Expression, which starred Arthur Lowe as cobbles staple Leonard Swindley.

In the 1960’s, Watling starred in films such as Calculated Risk, Two Left Feet and Theatre of Death with Christopher Lee and Julian Glover.

Her last TV appearance was on ITV comedy-drama Minder in 1994, in which she played Mrs Kravitz opposite Dennis Waterman’s Terry McCann.

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She shares a son with her ex-husband, Line of Duty actor Owen Teale, and was the sister of Doctor Who actor Deborah Watling, who died in 2017 aged 69.