Coronation Street star Johnny Briggs, famous for his role as ladies’ man Mike Baldwin, has died aged 85.
The actor was a fixture on the cobbles, making his name as the Cockney businessman, for 30 years and becoming one of the ITV soap’s most memorable characters.
A statement from his family said Briggs died peacefully after a long illness.
“It is with great sadness that we announce the death of our father, Johnny Briggs,” the statement said.
“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.”
The Coronation Street Twitter account paid tribute, saying the Baldwin character was “one of the most iconic the Street has ever known”.
His storylines included an affair, in the early 1980s, that gripped the nation.
Deidre (Anne Kirkbride) and Mike had an illicit relationship two years into her marriage to Ken Barlow (William Roache), but she decided to stay with her husband.
Briggs made his Corrie debut as Baldwin in 1976 and remained on the cobbles until 2006.
His character’s death, of a heart attack and having suffered from a form of Alzheimer’s, was watched by 12 million viewers.
It was described as an “historic moment in the Street’s history”.
The underwear factory boss died in the arms of Barlow, his nemesis.
Roache, who played Barlow, was among the many Coronation Street stars to remember their former co-star.
“Mike Baldwin and Ken Barlow were arch enemies for many years, but as an actor, Johnny was impeccable, always good, and I was so fortunate to have worked with him for so many years,” he said in a statement to the PA news agency.
“He was a strong character who will be greatly missed.
“I send my love to Johnny on his journey and to all those who are bound to miss him, he was an iconic Coronation Street character. Love you Johnny! X”
Following his Alzheimer’s storyline, Briggs, who began performing at the age of 12, backed a fundraising appeal with the Alzheimer’s Society to help people affected by the disease.
“I am very sorry to hear the sad news,” she said in a statement.
“I have many happy memories of working together with Johnny.
“Mike Baldwin was one of the street’s most memorable characters.”
John Whiston, managing director of continuing drama and head of ITV in the north, said the actor brought a charisma to the role which made it “very hard to look at anyone else.”
“The whole Coronation Street family is deeply saddened by the death of Johnny Briggs,” he said in a statement.
“When Mike Baldwin was in a scene it was very hard to look at anyone else.
“And it was that charisma which made him irresistible to the women of Coronation Street, and to viewers.
“He truly was one of the most iconic characters the Street has ever known. We wish Johnny’s family all our condolences.”
Antony Cotton, who plays Sean Tully in the soap, tweeted: “Johnny Briggs was a complex character, on and off screen, and we all adored him.
“Feel lucky that I got the chance to work with him in the factory. I am, and will always be, a Baldwin’s Casual.
“Night night Mr Baldwin, I’ve left you a bottle of Scotch in the filing cabinet.”
Sue Nicholls, the soap’s Audrey Roberts, said Briggs was “a truly great actor”.
“He played the part of Mike Baldwin so well that, despite all Mike’s ducking and diving, you were always on his side.
“Although he left the show 15 years ago he will always be part of the Street and its history. I send my love and condolences to his family,” she said in a statement to the PA news agency.
The London-born actor also appeared on stage and in films, alongside the likes of Norman Wisdom, Dirk Bogarde and Tommy Steele.
Briggs was appointed an MBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours in December 2006.