Coronation Street’s William Roache described his former co-star Liz Dawn as a “beautiful human being” in a touching tribute following the news of her death at the age of 77.
Roache, who plays long-running character Ken Barlow and starred alongside Dawn’s Vera Duckworth, remembered her as a “loveable person” who was full of “warmth and humour”, and the first to help anybody in need.
The 85-year-old told ITV News: “Liz Dawn was one of the most beautiful human beings I’ve ever met. She was kind. The first to help anybody in trouble … A very loving and loveable person.
“Even though she’s been out of the street for quite a few years, there’s this sense of loss that she’s gone.
“The warmth and the humour that was in Vera came from Liz … You can’t act that.”
He added she was a “consummate professional” and praised her “brilliant comedy timing”.
His tribute follows the news of Dawn’s death, which was announced by her family in a statement.
They said she died peacefully at home on Monday night and remembered the actress, who took on Vera’s role for more than 30 years, as “the love, light and inspiration in our lives and we are bereft at her passing”.
Other stars of the ITV soap described her as the “matriarch” of the show, who would always lend advice and support to the younger stars.
Michael Le Vell, who plays Kevin Webster, said: “For anyone young who joined the show, Liz was the matriarch.
“She took us under her wing and was the mother figure who helped guide us through the show. She did that for me. She’s going to be a big loss to us all.”
Alan Halsall, who plays Tyrone Dobbs, added: “It was quite daunting to come into Coronation Street as a 16-year-old.
“Liz first and foremost was very much a family person. That’s how she was with us on set. Off-camera we became like a work family.
“She guided us so much as young actors, both on screen and off screen cos she was such a beautiful person.”
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.
After being diagnosed with emphysema, Dawn was written out of the soap in 2008 when Vera died in her sleep.
Two years later, she made a moving comeback as the much-loved Corrie resident.
Just before he passed away, Jack saw a vision of the wife who had spent years nagging him and they shared a last dance together.
In 2012, Tarmey died in Spain and Dawn described him as a “lovely man and a true gentleman”.
Speaking about her health on a celebrity version of The Jeremy Kyle Show in 2014, the actress revealed: “I take a lot of tablets. I just live every day and get on with it.”
She 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.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn also remembered her, tweeting: “Liz Dawn was a brilliant actress & a true friend of Labour. She was as warm as Betty’s Hotpot & made Vera a Corrie legend. Farewell chuck.”
Born Sylvia Butterfield, the actress was best known by her professional name Elizabeth or Liz Dawn.
She was awarded an MBE in the 2000 birthday honours and in 2015 she came out of retirement to do a cameo in Emmerdale’s Christmas special.
She said at the time: “There’s only one show I’d come out of retirement for and it’s Emmerdale, particularly as I’ve celebrated my 76th birthday this week so I wanted to mark the occasion.”
She starred in the hour-long Christmas Day episode of ITV’s Yorkshire rural soap as Mrs Winterbottom.
In 2013 the actress spoke to the Daily Mirror after suffering a health scare and told the paper she was “lucky to be alive after having a heart attack”.
Dawn recalled how she began having chest pains while on holiday in Spain and had to be given emergency oxygen on the flight home.
Following a visit to the hospital on her return, she revealed she had been fitted with a pacemaker.
She told the Daily Mirror: “When I look back I can’t believe it. I nearly died. I feel lucky to still be here able to talk about it all.
“I couldn’t believe it. To hear those words – it was so frightening. After all I have been through with my health I just thought, ‘Oh no, not something else’.
“It was frightening to think that it happened while I was on holiday and that I hadn’t even realised the severity of what was happening to me.”
Coronation Street executive producer Kieran Roberts said in a statement: “Liz Dawn was a true Coronation Street legend, a brilliant actor and a wonderful person.”