British actress, comedian and writer Caroline Aherne, known for such TV comedies as The Royle Family, Mrs Merton and The Fast Show, died today at age 52 following a two-year battle with lung cancer. Her death was confirmed by her publicist Neil Reading, who noted that Aherne died at home in Timperley, Greater Manchester.
Aherne also narrated Channel 4’s 2013 reality series Gogglebox. A stand-up comic who expanded her career into TV comedy writing and performing, Aherne scored her first big success with her character Mrs Merton, the elderly host of the BBC’s 1990s faux-talk show The Mrs Merton Show. Aherne continued the character on the subsequent sitcom Mrs Merton and Malcolm, costarring Craig Cash as Mrs Merton’s son Malcolm.
After Mrs Merton, Aherne wrote and starred in the BBC sitcom The Royle Family from 1998 to 2000 (with subsequent specials appearing through 2012). The family satire about the dysfunctional, TV-obsessed Royle clan once again teamed Aherne with Craig Cash, both as stars and writers. The series won best comedy Bafta awards in 2000 and 2007.
Throughout her TV success, Aherne was outspoken about her battles with alcoholism and depression. Her lung cancer was preceded by a bout with bladder cancer. She’d been born with a rare form of retina cancer, which left her with lifelong vision problems in one eye.
Aherne was married to New Order bassist Peter Hook from 1994 until 1997.
“The family ask for privacy at this very sad time,” said publicist Reading.