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Coronation Street star John Savident dies aged 86

The actor played the beloved character Fred on the hit show

Coronation Street star John Savident dies aged 86
Emmy Griffiths
TV & Film Editor
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Coronation Street star John Savident has died aged 86, his agent has confirmed. The actor played Fred Elliot in the hit ITV soap over from 1994 to 2006, before leaving the show to spend more time with his family.

In a statement, his agent said: “We are sad to announce the death of the actor John Savident who died on Wednesday 21 February. He was a much-loved husband and father of two and will be sorely missed by all who knew him.” 

Coronation Street stars Fred played by John Savident and Sue Nicholls as Audrey,© John Stillwell - PA Images
Coronation Street stars Fred played by John Savident and Sue Nicholls as Audrey

The Guernsey-born star was a hugely popular soap opera star in the 1990s as the show’s famous butcher whose storylines included three marriages, various proposals, and a secret son storyline involving Ashley Peacock, played by Steven Arnold. 

John’s character Fred was killed off on the show in 2006 after he suffered a heart attack on the day of his wedding to Bev Unwin. His acting credits also include a role in 1986’s The Phantom of the Opera, Doctor Who, and Remains of the Day. Following his time on Coronation Street, he also starred in Holly City, HMS Pinafore and appeared in pantomime in Manchester. 

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The actor has been married to Rona Hopkinson since 1961, and the pair share two children together. Speaking about his decision to leave the show for his family back in 2008, he explained: “[My children] are really great kids, both sporty and so full of life and fun. I regret missing out on seeing them during a part of their growing up.

Coronation Street's Fred Elliot (John Savident) with his new bride Eve Sykes (Melanie Kilburn) after they are married in the hit soap based in Manchester© Phil Noble - PA Images
Coronation Street's Fred Elliot (John Savident) with his new bride Eve Sykes (Melanie Kilburn) after they are married in the hit soap based in Manchester

"I was becoming an absentee husband, father and grandfather by spending so many hours working on The Street. I couldn't go on any longer - the whole situation was becoming ridiculous and deeply distressing.”

He added: “If they'd made things a little easier for me by letting Fred give up The Rovers or the butcher's shop I'd probably have stayed.”

Fans were saddened to hear the news, with many taking to social media to share their favourite Fred moments from the show, and anecdotes about having worked with him in the past. 

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Writer Gareth Roberts posted: “My favourite John Savident story (and there were many). As I recall it, as he recalled it to me during my Coro St days.  He was stocking up on some Christmas booze one year at a posh off-license in the West End. Ahead of him at the counter, there’s a woman placing an order. John S thinks, ‘Oh damn - I’m sure I’ve worked with her in something, but for the life of me I can’t remember what, or even her name.’ So he tries to strike up a conversation - ‘Oh hello, my darling, lovely to see you again!’ - bit of actors’ chat. 

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“She’s polite but a bit icy. ‘How’s work? Doing panto this year?’ he asks. ‘No’, she replies, with a bit of a stare. She heads off. John Savident thinks, oh, bit toffee-nosed her, wish I could remember her name and what we were in together, I know that face so well …A moment later the penny drops. ‘Oh God. That was Princess Margaret.’” 

Another person added: “RIP John Savident. What a class act you were. Fred Elliott is my favourite soap character of all time & that was down to John’s exceptional talent. He portrayed him perfectly. I say he portrayed him perfectly.” 

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