British actor Johnny Briggs, best known for his role as businessman and ladies' man Mike Baldwin in the long-running soap opera Coronation Street, has died aged 85.
In a statement released by his family, it was revealed that he passed away peacefully on Sunday morning after a long illness.
“It is with great sadness that we announce the death of our father, Johnny Briggs. He passed away peacefully this morning after a long illness, with family by his side. He was 85.
“We politely ask for privacy at this time, so that we can quietly grieve as a family and remember the wonderful times we had with him. Thank you,” the statement said.
Johnny was a fixture on Coronation Street, playing his role for 30 years. He appeared in more than 2,000 episodes and was involved in many of the soap's most famous storylines.
He made his debut on the show as Baldwin in 1976, and remained until 2006.
In the early 1980s, his character's affair with married Deidre Barlow, played by Anne Kirkbride, gripped the nation and was one of the show's most popular storylines.
His long-running feud with Ken Barlow was also loved by viewers. Mike was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2005 and died a year later in the arms of his former love rival Ken, having suffered a heart attack in the street.
He briefly reprised the iconic role in 2012, appearing as a ghost as part of a special sketch for ITV charity fundraiser Text Santa.
Around 12 million viewers tuned in when his character died of a heart attack.
Briggs was appointed an MBE, or a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, in Queen Elizabeth II's New Year Honours in 2006.
Tributes have flown in from his former co-stars online, with the official Coronation Street Twitter account writing: “The whole Coronation Street family is deeply saddened by the death of Johnny Briggs. In the role of Mike Baldwin, he truly was one of the most iconic characters The Street has ever known. We wish Johnny's family all our condolences.”
Denise Welch, who played Natalie Horrocks, tweeted: “Farewell Johnny Briggs. So proud to have worked with such a legend “.
With extra reporting by AAP and Tom Beasley
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