08:21 EST, 9 November 2012
11:09 EST, 9 November 2012
Coronation Street actor Bill Tarmey, who played Jack Duckworth in the soap, has died.
The actor, who was 71, passed away in Tenerife on Friday morning.
He is survived by wife Alma, son Carl and daughter Sara.
Passing: Actor Bill Tarmey, aka Coronation Street’s Jack Duckworth, has died aged 71
A statement from the family of the actor
read: ‘The family of Bill Tarmey have confirmed that he sadly passed
away this morning in Tenerife.
‘They have respectfully asked the media for privacy as they grieve for a wonderful husband, father and brother.’
And a statement from ITV soap Coronation Street read: ‘The cast, crew and production team at Coronation Street are devastated to hear of Bill’s death.
‘Our thoughts and prayers are with Bill’s wife and soulmate Ali and their family at this very sad time.’
Screen star: Tarmey as Jack with his on-screen wife Vera Duckworth (Liz Dawn) and Julie Goodyear as Bet Lynch in a scene from the show in May 1983
National treasures: Jack and Vera Duckworth are one of the most famous soap couples in history
Actor Charlie Condou, who plays Marcus Dent in Coronation Street, shortly after the news was announced: ‘I am devastated to hear that the wonderful Bill Tarmey has died. He was a beautiful, funny and lovely man, and he will be missed by us all.’
Antony Cotton – who plays Sean Tully – wrote: ‘Goodnight Bill Tarmey. You were the best. We’ll miss you so much x’
Julie Goodyear, who played Bet Lynch,
said: ‘This news is so very sad, not just for me but for all his other
friends and of course his wife Ali, and all his family.
‘This wonderful man will be sadly missed.’
Catherine Tyldesley, who plays Eva in show, said: ‘So sad to hear that Bill Tarmey has died. £legend #RIPBILL. My deepest sympathies to all who knew him best xxx.’
Departure: When Tarmey retired in 2010, his character Jack was written out of the soap by peacefully dying in his armchair at No. 9 Coronation Street
In good spirits: One of the last pictures of Tarmey in public, taken in December 2011
Jack P Shepherd, who plays David Platt, tweeted: ‘Just heard the news about Bills death tragic news for everyone #RIPBILL’.
Nigel Pivaro, who played the
Duckworths’ layabout son Terry, said: ‘I am devastated to learn of the
passing of someone who became a huge part of both my professional and
personal life, who I came to look on as a second father.
‘He was a very wise and dignified man who taught me a great deal and whose counsel I came to value greatly.
‘He was a lovely man who cared deeply
for his family and friends. We are all rightly bereft at the loss we
will feel knowing that the world will be a little poorer without Bill to
lighten it up with his warm humour.’
Michael Le Vell, who has played
mechanic Kevin Webster in the show for years, said: ‘Bill met my dad
briefly when I first joined Coronation Street. And when my dad passed
away Bill became like a surrogate dad to me.
‘He and Liz looked after me and got
me through those early days and we’ve been friends ever since. My heart
goes out to Ali and his family. We knew Bill was poorly, but this is
still a very great shock. I am going to miss him very much.’
Tributes also flooded in from the
entertainment world, with This Morning presenter Eamonn Holmes writing:
‘RIP Bill Tarmey aka Jack Duckworth. Known him for many years – always
remembered the small things. Ruth & I getting more like Jack &
A life-long heavy smoker, Tarmey suffered from ailing health over the years. He had a heart attack in 1976, followed by a stroke in 1977, and underwent a quintuple heart bypass in 1986.
Family comes first: One of the main reasons for Tarmey quitting Coronation Street in 2010 was to look after his son Carl, who is battling a life-threatening brain tumour
Speaking about his illness following a
second heart attack in 2002, which saw him fitted with a pacemaker
afterwards, Tarmey said: ‘I’m deeply worried.
‘I have cheated death so many times I feel like a cat running out of lives.
Singing star: Tarmey also had a successful music career
‘I’ve already died twice and the last time they brought me back to life using a medical version of jump leads.’
Tarmey also long refused to give up smoking,
saying in one interview: ‘I could make it easier on myself. I could give
up smoking. I could go and sit in a rocking chair.
‘But that wouldn’t be me. That would kill me sooner than the old ticker would.’
Tarmey quit Coronation Street in April 2010 to spend more time with his family, after 30 years playing Duckworth.
His decision to leave also came as his son Carl is battling a life-threatening brain tumour.
Tarmey said: ‘You would have had to drag me kicking and screaming from the Street.
‘It was my life and I loved it. But I needed to be with my family and Carl.’
His final scenes in the show saw Jack dying peacefully in his armchair at No.9 Coronation Street
after attending his 74th birthday party at the Rovers Return pub.
Happy marriage: Tarmey seen with wife Alma, to whom he was married for 50 years
said at the time: ‘People often ask me if I like Jack Duckworth and I
always reply, “Like him, I bloody love him!” I have had the most amazing
30 years playing Jack.
TRIBUTES FLOOD IN TO A SOAP ICON
Antony Cotton: Goodnight Bill Tarmey. You were the best. We’ll miss you so much x
Jack P Shepherd: Just heard the news about Bills death tragic news for everyone #RIPBILL
Catherine Tyldesley: So sad to hear that Bill Tarmey has died. #legend #RIPBILL. My deepest sympathies to all who knew him best xxx
Julie Goodyear: This news is so very sad, not just for me but for all his other friends and of course his wife Ali, and all his family. This wonderful man will be sadly missed
Nigel Pivaro: I am devastated to learn of the passing of someone who became a huge part of both my professional and personal life, who I came to look on as a second father
Michael Le Vell: When my dad passed away Bill became like a surrogate dad to me. My heart goes out to Ali and his family. We knew Bill was poorly, but this is still a very great shock
Nick Cochrane: He was such a funny guy, he will be much missed by all who knew him and watched him, he made millions watching laugh every week for over 30 years – a true professional
‘Because of him I have made some fantastic friends and travelled all over the world and I will be sorry to say goodbye to Jack.’
Tarmey was born in Ashton-under-Lyne on April 4 1941, and was
just three years old when his ambulance driver father, William Snr, was
killed by shellfire as he ferried casualties to a field hospital in
The family grew up with little money
and Tarmey left school to enter the building trade. He married his
childhood sweetheart Alison – to whom he remained married for 50 years –
and they had two children.
Before joining Coronation Street as an extra in 1977, he
struggled to make ends meet and said one incident involving his young
son brought home to him the importance of money.
The little boy came home upset one day because he had been dropped from his football team.
Tarmey recalled: ‘I couldn’t
understand it and went to see the trainer, who told me he had been
dropped because he wouldn’t take goal kicks.
‘His football boots were too small, but he was too afraid to tell me because he knew I couldn’t afford a new pair.
‘I went home and cried that night. I vowed that I’d never be poor again.’
Despite his TV fame, music remained
Tarmey’s first love and over the years he released a host of cover
versions and big band numbers.
Tragic loss: Tarmey began his career as an extra on Corrie before he moved on to his starring role, which netted him £100,000-a-year