21 JANUARY 2008

An estimated 12.5 million Coronation Street fans tuned in to the tear-jerking episode in which former pub landlady Vera Duckworth breathed her last. The much-loved character, played by actress Liz Dawn, passed away peacefully in her sleep while husband Jack was in the Rovers Return pub.

"I have had 33 marvellous years in Coronation Street and will miss everyone very much," said 68-year-old Liz. "It was very emotional filming Vera's death scenes but I do think it was the right decision for the character." The star, who was awarded an MBE in 2000, has retired from the soap to spend time with her family after revealing she is suffering from emphysema.

And it's not just Corrie fans who are going to miss Liz's presence on the cobbled streets of Weatherfield. Co-star Bill Tarmey, who plays her on-screen husband Jack, says work just isn't the same without her. "We have never had a cross word," he reveals. "I already miss walking on set and seeing her there - and I miss working with her."

The pair, who entertained the nation with their stormy marriage for almost three decades, were also good pals in real life.

"She's a wonderful woman," continued Bill. "We wish her all the love in the world and want her to enjoy her retirement – she deserves it."

Photo: ©
After portraying battleaxe Vera since 1974 Liz Dawn has retired to spend time with her family Photo: © ITV
Photo: ©
Her on-screen husband, played by actor Bill Tarmey, stands beside the hearse bearing Vera's remains in the emotional Corrie episode Photo: © ITV
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