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Comedians and actors pay tribute to the late Caroline Aherne

Published 03/07/2016

Caroline Aherne had battled lung cancer
Caroline Aherne had battled lung cancer
Ricky Tomlinson who acted alongside Caroline Aherne in the Royal Family
David Walliams
Steve Coogan

Ricky Tomlinson, Steve Coogan and David Walliams have paid tribute to British actress and comedian Caroline Aherne.

Caroline, best known for her role as Mrs Merton, an outspoken elderly woman turned chat show host, passed away at her home in Greater Manchester, England on Saturday (02Jul16) after a battle with cancer.

The British funny woman, who was born with a rare form of retina cancer, later received treatment for bladder cancer. And in 2014 announced she was battling lung cancer.

Ricky Tomlinson, who played her layabout father Jim Royle in the much-loved TV sitcom The Royle Family, lead the tributes from the cast of the show.

He told British newspaper the Sunday Mirror, "I’m so bl**dy shocked. She was absolutely wonderful and amazing to work for. Kind, funny, witty. A true professional and one of the most generous people I ever worked with."

The 76-year-old actor said he never once heard Caroline complain about her ill health, and added, "She never talked about her health, ever. I can never ever remember her complaining. She must have gone through a lot but I never saw her looking unwell.

"She never flagged in work and the atmosphere when she was writing and acting was brilliant."

Sue Johnston, who played mother Barbara to Caroline's character Denise in the show, made a brief statement to the media on Saturday, saying simply, "I am devastated at her passing and I am numb with grief."

And Ralf Little, who played her brother Antony, wrote on Twitter, "Sorry for silence - I just... don't know what to say. What a sad, sad day. We've lost another one of our best. A character. A legend. A boss. A sister, real and (for me) fake. A boss. A writer. An actor. A genius. A friend. Big, big heart. Goodbye. X"

He later wrote, "Thing is, amidst all sadness Caroline would now say something grounded, incisive, and hilarious. I can't think of anything, but she would."

Steve Coogan, a close friend of Caroline, wrote a touching tribute to the comedian in British newspaper The Guardian on Saturday, and said poignantly, "I loved her. She used to make me cry with laughter. This is the first time she’s made me cry without laughing."

David Walliams wrote on Twitter, "Absolutely devastating news about Caroline Aherne. A true comedy genius, her work was equally funny & touching," while fellow comedian and actor Matt Lucas wrote, "Caroline Aherne moved television comedy on to a new place. Her extraordinary work will be cherished by future generations."

Star Wars actor Mark Hamill also paid tribute to Caroline, writing on Twitter, "I'm devastated at the loss of brilliant writer/actor Caroline Aherne #TheRoyleFamily was a masterpiece! #GoneTooSoon."

Little soon responded to Mark's touching post, and wrote, "I cannot believe Mark Hamill knows of Caroline & the Royle Family. That shows just how far reaching her talent was.

John Thomson, Aherne's co-star on The Fast Show, said his friend had "raw talent" and "no agenda".

He said: "We've lost a great comedienne, actress and writer and sadly I've lost a very dear, very old friend.

"When I say lost, sadly a lot of us lost Caroline years ago. Thanks to the cumulative effect of the regular intrusion into her private life and particularly her personal relationships, Caroline opted out and became a virtual recluse, only to bless our screens at Christmas in the latest rendition of the Royle Family.

"Who can blame her? I know only too well, the pain that comes with the moniker 'celebrity'. She never wanted fame, she was a raw talent who accepted that fame was a mere by-product of her skill set."

He added: "She wasn't political, she never saw herself as a feminist or representing the minority of female comics. She didn't need to, there was no agenda, she was just funny.

"She was an incredibly funny woman on and off screen, whose raw talent and 'funny bones' never failed to make me roar with laughter."

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