Emmerdale star Shirley Stelfox, who played Edna Birch, has died aged 74

The actress had been a mainstay on the ITV soap since 2000

Actress Shirley Stelfox, who played moral guardian Edna Birch on Emmerdale, has died aged 74.

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In a statement released today, it was confirmed that the actress had passed away with her daughter Helena by her side following a short battle with cancer.

ITV’s creative director for soaps, John Whiston said: “The family here at Emmerdale are deeply saddened by Shirley’s passing. It is hard to imagine the show without her.

“We offer our condolences to Shirley’s family and share our feeling of loss with the millions of viewers who will miss Edna enormously.”

Prior to joining Emmerdale, Rada-trained Stelfox had appeared in such long-running TV shows as Common as Muck, Making Out and Keeping in Appearances, where she played Hyacinth’s sister Rose.

She first appeared on Emmerdale in May 2000, with Edna’s disapproving ways bringing her into conflict with many of her fellow villagers.

You can watch a 60-second rundown of next week’s episodes of Emmerdale below.

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And visit our dedicated Emmerdale page for all the latest news, interviews and spoilers.