Comedian and writer Caroline Aherne dies aged 52

By David Prior at

Comedian and TV writer Caroline Aherne has died aged 52, her publicist has said.

The former Royle Family star, who lived in Timperley, had been battling cancer.

“Caroline Aherne has sadly passed away after a brave battle with cancer,” her publicist Neil Redding said in a statement today.

“The BAFTA award-winning writer and comedy actor died earlier today at her home in Timperley, Greater Manchester. She was 52.

“The family ask for privacy at this very sad time.”

Aherne has been battling a lung tumour after twice overcoming cancer, and earlier this year took a break from narrating Channel 4 series Gogglebox.

She and her brother were both born with retina cancer – leaving her partially sighted in one eye – and she had also had the disease in her bladder.

Born in London but raised in Wythenshawe and educated in West Didsbury, Aherne first came to attention in the late 80s when she developed her Mrs Merton character with Frank Sidebottom for his show on Piccadilly Radio, where she worked as a receptionist.

She made brief appearances in The Smell of Reeves and Mortimer (1993) before writing for BBC comedy series The Fast Show between 1994 and 1997.

She achieved national prominence in 1994 with her own chat show, The Mrs Merton Show, famously asking one guest, Debbie McGee, “So, what first attracted you to the millionaire Paul Daniels?”

But her most popular creation was the Manchester-set comedy The Royle Family, which she co-created and wrote with Craig Cash. Aherne starred alongside Ricky Tomlinson and Sue Johnston as their daughter Denise Royle.

The show was a huge ratings and critical success, and ran for three series of six episodes as well as three one-offs.

One Christmas special, ‘The Golden Egg Cup’, was aired on Christmas Day in 2009 and attracted an audience of 11.74 million viewers, making it the most-watched programme that Christmas and the highest rating episode of The Royle Family.

A classic clip from The Royle Family:

Over a decade ago she moved up from London to Timperley to be near her mum, Maureen, and brother.

More tributes from the world of comedy: