Emmerdale actress, Shirley Stelfox, passes away aged 74

Shirley Stelfox played Edna Birch for 15 years Credit: ITV News

Shirley Stelfox, who played Emmerdale's Edna Birch, has died following a short battle with cancer, aged 74.

The RADA trained actress had a varied career on stage and screen, appearing in many West End and leading TV productions.

Her agent announced on Tuesday morning that she died at her home with her daughter, Helena, by her side.

Shirley Stelfox has died aged 74 Credit: Press Association

After making her screen debut aged 12 in David Lean's film, Hobson's Choice, she went on to play leading roles in Common as Muck, Civvies, and "Rose" in Keeping Up Appearances, and stared in soaps Coronation Street, Eastenders and Brookside.

It was ITV soap, Emmerdale, where she will be best remembered, first appearing as the feisty Edna Birch in 2000.

Shirley also starred opposite John Hurt in the film '1984' and with Julie Walters in Personal Services.

Her stage work included Not Now Darling at The Strand, Toad of Toad Hall at The Duke of York’s and Cavalcade at Chichester Festival Theatre.

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.

John Whiston, MD Continuing Drama & ITV North

Shirley was married to actor Don Henderson from 1979 until he passed away in 1997.

Read: Tributes to 'legendary' Shirely Stelfox