Royle Family and Mrs Merton star Caroline Aherne dies aged 52

Actress Caroline Aherne has died at the age of 52 after a battle with cancer, her publicist confirmed.

The London-born, BAFTA-winning comedian, famed for her roles in The Royle Family, The Mrs Merton Show and The Fast Show, passed away at her home in Greater Manchester.

Aherne had been battling lung cancer and had previously been treated for bladder and eye cancer.

A statement issued by publicist Neil Reading today said: ‘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.’

Stars quickly took to Twitter this afternoon to pay tribute to the much-loved actress and comic.

Ralf Little, who played her brother in The Royle Family, led the tributes and said: ‘Sorry for silence – I just… don’t know what to say. What a sad, sad day. We’ve lost another one of our best.

‘A character. A legend. A boss. A sister, real and (for me) fake. A boss. A writer. An actor. A genius. A friend. Big, big heart. Goodbye. X’

Comedian Jenny Eclair wrote: ‘Poor dear Caroline Aherne, how terribly sad.’

Pop star Ellie Goulding wrote: ‘So so sad to hear about Caroline Aherne. The Royle Family is one of the greatest British comedies. She really was a comic genius. Sleep well.’

Comedian Sarah Millican said: ‘So sad. What a wonderful talent she was.’

This Morning host Phillip Schofield said: ‘So desperately sad to hear of the death of Caroline Aherne. Such a unique and gifted lady. Lots of love to all her family & friends X.’

Actor Max Beesley wrote: ‘Heartbroken to hear of the loss of my dear old friend Caroline Aherne. She was a one off talent…’