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Emmerdale star Shirley (74) dies after battle with cancer


Shirley Stelfox played Edna Birch on ITV soap Emmerdale

Shirley Stelfox played Edna Birch on ITV soap Emmerdale

Shirley Stelfox played Edna Birch on ITV soap Emmerdale

Former Emmerdale stars James Sutton and Verity Rushworth have led tributes to actress Shirley Stelfox, who has died of cancer.

A statement from Asso- ciated International Management said the 74-year-old died peacefully at home on Monday, with her daughter Helena by her side.

She was best known as Edna Birch in ITV's Emmerdale, a role she played for the past 15 years.

Sutton, who played Ryan Lamb in the ITV soap, tweeted: "Very sad news about Shirley Stelfox, she was always so kind to me on @emmerdale. A lovely lady and a terrific actress. #RIP"

Rushworth, who played Donna Windsor, posted: "Thinking of the entire @emmerdale family and the loved ones of the legendary Shirley Stelfox. Taught me so much when growing up. Xxx"

Tom Lister, who portrayed villain Carl King, said: "My beautiful dear friend Shirley. How I'll miss you and the laughs that we had together."

Hayley Tamaddon, who previously starred as Delilah 'Del' Dingle on the show, wrote: "Thinking of everyone @emmerdale today. Such sad news about the wonderful Shirley. I loved that lady. She taught me so very much. X"

Stelfox, who trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, went on to star in numerous shows. She was the first Rose in Keeping Up Appearances and also starred in The Bill, Coronation Street and Crossroads.

Her film credits included a role opposite John Hurt in the movie adaptation of George Orwell's novel 1984. She also starred alongside Julie Walters in Personal Services.

TV and film aside, she also had a successful career in the theatre, with her stage work including Not Now, Darling, Toad Of Toad Hall and Cavalcade at the Chichester Festival Theatre.