'I've lost my beautiful sister and my heart's broken' - Caroline Aherne's brother
Published 04/07/2016 | 08:21
The brother of Caroline Aherne has said his "heart is broken" following the comedian and actress' death from cancer.
The 52-year-old star was best known for hit sitcom The Royle Family and the riotous chat show The Mrs Merton Show, both of which won a string of awards.
Aherne, who more recently narrated Channel 4 show Gogglebox, had been battling lung cancer and had previously been treated for bladder and eye cancer.
In a statement made to the Daily Mirror, her brother Patrick said: "My heart is broken as I loved her so much. But she is now in a better place and most of all she has no pain.
"I have lost a beautiful sister and the world has lost an amazing talent.
"I know Caroline would want everybody to be happy and not sad and I think we should now remember the comedy legacy she has left for us. RIP Caroline."
An unnamed relative also told the paper that the family "didn't expect her to go" and that she "died on her own".
Aherne gained public attention as the Checkout Girl in The Fast Show. But she became a household name as straight-talking blue-rinse granny Mrs Merton in The Mrs Merton Show, which first aired on BBC Two in 1995 and won the best talk show Bafta in 1997.
The Royle Family was born after she and friend Craig Cash, who played gormless Dave Best in the show, threw themselves into their work after a suicide attempt, which she described as her lowest ebb.
It is considered to be a classic British sitcom, despite the unusual format of a working class family sitting in a living room.
The BBC show was the toast of the 1999 British Comedy Awards, scooping four trophies including best actress for Aherne. It also went on to take home the best sitcom Bafta in 2000 and 2007.
Writing in the Sun former Royle Family star Ralf Little also paid tribute to Aherne.
Recalling the time he first met her, he said was "pretty nervous" and described himself as a "skinny, big-nosed teenager plucked out of nowhere".
"It was pretty terrifying when she saw me come through the door and immediately marched over, saying, 'Oh god, Ralf, we're so sorry - did they not tell you? You've been recast'," he said.
"I looked horrified as she pointed to Ricky Tomlinson and said, 'Ricky's going to shave and play your part now'. She paused as I stood, dumb-struck, before bursting into gales of laughter and giving me a welcome hug."
He said Aherne had a "joy about her" and that despite her difficult times "prized laughter above all else".
"Those twinkly blue eyes would flash with mischief and you knew you were in for a rough time as she'd mercilessly take the p*** without ever causing hurt or offence," he added.
He said she "saw the world differently" and "delighted in the humble, unpr etentious absurdities of everyday life without ever looking down on it".
"What a voice, what a mind, what a woman. I'll miss her making us cry with laughter. I'll miss her supportive texts when I write new things. I'll miss her silliness, her intelligence, her laughter and her joy," he added.
"I'll miss her mischief. I'll miss those twinkly blue eyes. I'll miss her. We lost one of the good ones."
Aherne's death was announced by her publicist Neil Reading, who said she died on Saturday at her home in Timperley, Greater Manchester.
The star - who had been a smoker - struggled with health issues for years, fighting depression and drink problems.
Born to Irish immigrant parents in London before being raised in Manchester, she was diagnosed with a rare cancer of the retina as a child - like her brother Patrick.
She was sent to Lourdes in search of a miracle cure but was left with severely impaired sight in one eye.