Actor Bill Roache has led tributes to “the father of Coronation Street”, its creator, Tony Warren, who has died aged 79.
Best-known for his role as Ken Barlow in the soap, Roache had worked with Warren since the show’s first episode on December 9 1960.
He said: “When I first met Tony I couldn’t quite believe he’d created and written Coronation Street because he was no more than a young boy.
“It was his boyish energy even recently when I saw him again that I’ll remember. I loved Tony’s energy. He was the father of Coronation Street and he gave us all so much.
“He will be so desperately missed because of who he was and what he did. We owe him so much.”
ITV confirmed the news of Warren’s death, saying in a statement he had “passed away peacefully last night (March 1) surrounded by his loving friends, aged 79, after a short illness”.
It continued: “All who worked with Tony throughout his illustrious career had the utmost respect for his achievements and he remained a consultant on the Manchester-based soap until the day he died.
“He was considered one of the television industry’s greatest minds as he devised the idea for the Weatherfield soap at the age of 24, at the very beginning of his acclaimed writing career.”
Corrie actress Helen Worth, who worked with Warren for 42 years, hailed him as a “genius of our time” and “the dearest, funniest and most inspirational man of his generation”.
She said he would “live on forever through Coronation Street”.
Long-standing cast member Antony Cotton, who has been in the show since 2003, also remembered him, writing on Twitter: “He leaves the greatest legacy. I’ll miss him so much.”
Warren devised the idea for the Weatherfield soap at the age of 24, at the very beginning of his writing career.
Born Anthony McVay Simpson in Eccles, Manchester, Warren was a regular visitor to the soap’s set in Trafford, Greater Manchester.
He loved catching up with the cast and crew during breaks in filming. He also offered the actors insightful feedback about their characters and storylines.
Credited with creating one of the most successful programmes in British television history, the Coronation Street creator adopted the stage surname of Warren during his early acting career as a successful child star.
He trained at the Elliott Clarke Theatre School in Liverpool and became a regular on Children’s Hour on BBC Radio.
He also acted in many radio plays and performed with the actors who were later to become household names in Coronation Street, most notably Violet Carson, who played battleaxe Ena Sharples, and Doris Speed, who became famous as Annie Walker.
In 1960, Warren’s initial scripts for Coronation Street were commissioned by Granada Television for the ITV network.
He went on to write the first 13 episodes of the long-running soap and, almost overnight, Coronation Street became a success.
Warren wrote scripts for Granada Television on a full-time basis until 1968. He then worked on other television dramas and went on to craft several critically acclaimed novels in the 1990s, although his association with Coronation Street continued.
He wrote episodes for the soap until the late 1970s.
Warren is survived by his cousin Roy, his loving and devoted friends and his colleagues at Coronation Street who in later years became like family to him.