Liz Dawn: Coronation Street actress who played Vera Duckworth dies aged 77

Liz Dawn, the Coronation Street actress who played Vera Duckworth in the soap for more than three decades, has died aged 77.

In a statement, her family said they are "devastated and heartbroken" at the loss of a "much-loved wife, mother, sister, grandmother and great grandmother".

It continued: "Liz died peacefully last night at home with her loving family around her.

"She has been the love, light and inspiration in our lives and we are bereft at her passing."

Paying tribute, Alan Halsall, who plays Tyrone Dobbs in the soap, told ITV News: "It's quite daunting to come in to Coronation Street as a 16-year-old and then to be put with Jack and Vera, such iconic characters, that was brilliant as an actor. And then you get to know the people behind the characters.

"Liz first and foremost was very much a family person and that's how she was on set. We became like a work family. She was brilliant, she guided us so much as young actors, both on-screen and off-screen, because she was such a beautiful person."

Alan Halsall and Samia Longchambon speaking to ITV News.

Samia Longchambon, who plays Maria Connor, said: "She was such a good friend, like a mentor, she was like family.

"It was incredible experience to work with Liz but to have Liz and call her a friend is even better because she was just such a beautiful, warm generous person and we'll miss her so much."

A spokesperson for Coronation Street said: "It is with the greatest sadness that we have learned our beloved Liz Dawn has passed away last night. Her family at Coronation Street are heartbroken.

"We extend our heartfelt condolences and sympathy at this very sad time to Liz’s devoted husband Don, her loving children Graham, Dawn, Ann and Julie, their families and her six grandchildren and three great grandchildren.

"We have been blessed to have Liz in our lives, as she was such a kind, considerate and caring friend and colleague."

Coronation Street’s Executive Producer, Kieran Roberts said: “Liz Dawn was a true Coronation Street legend, a brilliant actor and a wonderful person.

"Everyone lucky enough to have worked with Liz during her 34 years playing Corrie icon Vera Duckworth will remember her with huge affection.”

Liz first appeared in Corrie in 1974. Credit: ITV / Coronation Street

Liz Dawn first appeared in Coronation Street in 1974 before her character moved into number nine along with husband Jack, played by the late Bill Tarmey. They became one of the soap world's most popular - and quarrelsome - couples.

After being diagnosed with emphysema four years earlier, Dawn was written out of the soap in 2008.

The episode in which her character died peacefully in her sleep in her armchair was seen by more than 12 million viewers.

Liz with her soap husband Jack, played by the late Bill Tarmey at the races Credit: ITV / Coronation Street

She returned for a one-off appearance as Vera's ghost in 2010 for Tarmey's final scenes.

She later said of life in a soap: "It does take over your life.

"People don't realise. They think you've had a charmed life. They don't see that you've brought up four children and learnt lines on the train."

In 2000, the Corrie went to Blackpool. Credit: ITV / Coronation Street

Born Sylvia Butterfield in Leeds in 1938, the actress was best known by her professional name Elizabeth or Liz Dawn.

She left school at 16 and worked selling light bulbs in Woolworths, as well as in a local tailoring factory, as a cinema usherette and shoe salesgirl.

She began her showbusiness career as a nightclub singer. By the late 1960s she ventured into acting, often taking small parts in TV programmes as well as appearing in commercials.

Coronation Street Christmas photo from 2002. Credit: ITV / Coronation Street

During the 1970s Dawn appeared in a variety of programmes, including All Creatures Great And Small and Colin Welland's play Leeds United.

In 2000, Dawn was chosen as the Lady Mayoress of Leeds and was awarded an MBE in October of that year for services to charity, having helped to raise hundreds of thousands of pounds for hospitals in the Manchester and Leeds areas.

She campaigned for the British Lung Foundation, fronting campaigns to raise awareness.

Dawn had four children and was married twice - to miner Walter Bradley in 1957, with whom she had her first child, and to electrician Donald Ibbertson in 1965.

Liz pictured with her Corrie husband Jack in 2006. Credit: ITV / Coronation Street

Tributes to Liz Dawn from her fellow Coronation Street co-stars

  • Antony Cotton (Sean Tully)

"I’m devastated. Liz was a wonderful actress, a fascinating storyteller, a hilarious comedian and most importantly a brilliant friend.

"For many people of my generation, Jack and Vera WERE Coronation Street."

  • Sally Ann Matthews (Jenny Bradley)

"Liz was a wonderful actress and a fabulous lady. You always knew when she was in the building, she had a presence.

"When I bought my first home, Liz gave me some money to 'buy something nice and stick it on the wall.' I bought a painting of The Lady of Shalott and think of her every time I look at it."

  • Kevin Kennedy (Curly Watts)

"It's very sad that we have lost Liz Dawn. The biggest tribute I can give to her is simply at the mention of her name immediately makes me smile because she always did. Love to Don and her family."

  • Sue Nicholls (Audrey Roberts)

"I feel so lucky that I was able to work with dear Liz. Two minutes in her company on screen and off was a total joy. Bless you dear Lis, love and condolences to Don and your lovely family."

  • Jane Danson (Leanne Battersby)

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn also tweeted about the passing of a "Corrie legend".