Royle Family actress Caroline Aherne loses battle with cancer at the age of 52
Actress Caroline Aherne has died at the age of 52 after a battle with cancer, her publicist has said.
The star was best known for her work in The Royle Family, The Mrs Merton Show and The Fast Show.
Neil Reading, her publicist, said today: "Caroline Aherne has sadly passed away, after a brave battle with cancer.
"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 was born in London, but her parents are from Ireland.
Aherne, who was a smoker, had struggled with health problems for years.
She also fought depression and drink problems and spent time in the Priory Clinic following a suicide attempt, before moving to Australia to avoid the glare of publicity.
Her battle with lung cancer came to light after she agreed to take part in an appeal in her home city of Manchester that was asking patients and carers to help improve standards of care. In pledging her support, she said: "I've had cancer and my brother's had cancer and we know how it affects people."
Aherne had largely withdrawn from the public eye, but she recently took part as one of the cast of an animated children's series for the BBC. She played a range of characters in CBBC's 'Strange Hill High', along with her former co-star from 'The Fast Show' John Thomson.
The star was once married to former New Order guitarist Peter Hook, and she then began a romance with TV researcher Matt Bowers. They split but she was devastated when he died of cancer at the age of 28.
As a child, Aherne was diagnosed with a rare cancer of the retina, like her older brother Patrick before her, and her local Catholic church raised funds to send her to Lourdes in search of a miracle cure.
She was left with severely impaired sight in one eye.
In 1996 she was voted best female performer at the British Comedy Awards.
She created The Royle Family with her friend Craig Cash, who played her husband Dave Best in the show, after a suicide attempt, which she described as her darkest time.
The show scooped four trophies at the 1999 British Comedy Awards, including best actress for Aherne.