Coronation Street star Johnny Briggs who played Mike Baldwin for 30 years on the soap has died aged 85.
The soap legend passed away at his home this morning after a long illness, his family said, though it is unclear what the illness was.
A family statement said: ‘It is with great sadness that we announce the death of our father, Johnny Briggs.
‘He passed away peacefully this morning after a long illness, with family by his side. He was 85. 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. Thank you.’
Briggs split his time between a home in Portishead, North Somerset, UK, and a house in Florida though it is unclear where he was staying at time of his death.
He played underwear factory boss Mike Baldwin in Coronation Street from 1976 to 2006 and received an MBE in 2007.
He appeared in 2,349 episodes, including a 2012 special as a ghost, and is best remembered for his famous feud with Ken Barlow, played by Bill Roache, after he had an affair with his wife Deirdre, played by the late Anne Kirkbride.
Johnny Briggs, after collecting an MBE in 2007. The actor who played Mike Baldwin in Coronation Street, died on Sunday aged 85 after a long illness, his family said
Briggs played Mike Baldwin in Coronation Street from 1976 to 2006 and received an MBE in 2007
The love triangle between the three was hugely popular with viewers and carried on for years.
In the 1980s the storyline helped to pull in 21 million viewers at its height.
His character, Mike, had been suffering with Alzheimer’s for months and collapsed in the street after a heart attack, dying in the arms of Ken.
Coronation Street stars took to Twitter to pay tribute after news of his death broke.
Antony Cotton said: ‘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…’
Coronation Street star Helen Worth, who plays Gail Platt, said: ‘I am very sorry to hear the sad news.
‘I have many happy memories of working together with Johnny. He was one of the street’s most memorable characters.’
Samia Longchambon tweeted ‘Rest in peace Johnny Briggs. Really sorry to hear the sad news.
‘I have fond memories of working with Johnny, he was such a lovely man.’
Corrie colleague Sally Dynevor tweeted: ‘RIP Johnny Briggs. What a wonderful actor he was. Lots of happy memories.’
Character Mike had been suffering with Alzheimer’s for months and collapsed in the street after a heart attack to end Briggs’ stint on the show
Johnny Briggs made his Corrie debut as Mike in 1976 and remained on the cobbles until 2006
Piers Morgan was among others to pay tribute to the soap legend.
‘RIP Johnny Briggs, 85,’ he tweeted. ‘Coronation Street legend who played rogueish Mike Baldwin for 30yrs. Great character on & off screen.’
John Whiston, managing director of continuing drama and head of ITV in the north, paid tribute.
‘The whole Coronation Street family is deeply saddened by the death of Johnny Briggs,’ he said in a statement.
‘For years Johnny was right at the centre of the show, playing the part of Mike Baldwin and bringing to the role huge energy, dynamism, professionalism and credibility.
‘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.
Englebert Humperdinck with Johnny Briggs (left) on the set of Coronation Street in 2001
Johnny Briggs (right) and Ricky Tomlinson during the British Academy Television Awards (BAFTA) at the Grosvenor House Hotel in Park Lane in 2004
‘He truly was one of the most iconic characters the Street has ever known. We wish Johnny’s family all our condolences.’
Emmerdale actor John Bowe tweeted: ‘RIP Johnny Briggs. Never forgotten introducing you to Guacamole!’
Conservative MP for Bournemouth West, Conor Burns, tweeted: ‘Sad to hear Johnny Briggs has died.
‘A great actor who brought pleasure to millions through his character Mike Baldwin.
‘Will always be remembered for some of @itvcorrie most dramatic, funny and moving scenes. The passing of an era on the cobbles. RIP.’
Former Corrie writer Phil Ford tweeted: ‘Very very sad to hear that actor Johnny Briggs has died.
‘Knew him during my time on Corrie. Many a lunchtime chat. Lots of smiles.’
The London-born actor also appeared on stage and in films, alongside the likes of Norman Wisdom, Dirk Bogarde and Tommy Steele.
A father of six, Johnny was married twice, first to Caroline Sinclair from 1961 to 1975 and then to Christine Allsop from 1977 to 2006.
He disowned his heroin addict daughter and granddaughter after they were jailed for several offences.
Karen Briggs, 51, was jailed in for nine months in 2016 after breaching a criminal behaviour order and stealing a bicycle from Cobham Rail Station in Surrey on June 21 and July 18.
Karen Briggs, 51, was jailed in for nine months in 2016 after breaching a criminal behaviour order and stealing a bicycle from Cobham Rail Station in Surrey on June 21 and July 18. Her daughter Emma Beach admitted the same offences
Briggs disowned his heroin addict daughter and granddaughter after they were jailed for several offences
Her daughter Emma Beach admitted the same offences, as well as stealing a bike from a separate station earlier. She was jailed for 15 months.
The mother and daughter, from Cobham, Surrey, who both have a history of shoplifting and drug abuse, were sentenced at Guildford Crown Court.
Their father and grandfather, Johnny Briggs, who played Mike Baldwin in Coronation Street from 1976 to 2012 and received an MBE in 2007, has since disowned them.
They are said to have carried out 100 thefts between them to fund their heroin addiction, which Beach took up aged just 14 after being influenced by her mother.
Briggs was born on September 5, 1935 in Battersea, London. In 1947, at the age of 12, he won a scholarship to the Italia Conti Stage Academy. That year he made his first professional appearance as a boy soprano with the Italian Opera Company in London.
The following year he appeared in the hit film Quartet and made several stage appearances before becoming a stage hand at the Windmill Theatre.
He did his National Service in Germany with the Royal Tank Regiment. Afterwards, he joined the High Wycombe Repertory Company.
He appeared in 2,349 episodes, including a 2012 special as a ghost, and is best remembered for his famous feud with Ken Barlow, played by Bill Roache, after he had an affair with his wife Deirdre, played by the late Anne Kirkbride
His character, Mike, had been suffering with Alzheimer’s for months and collapsed in the street after a heart attack, dying in the arms of Ken
Briggs led the tributes to Anne Kirkbride, who played Deirdre Barlow (centre) in the show for four decades, following her death in 2015, saying she was ‘worth an Oscar’
By 1960 he had become a TV and stage regular, with parts in The Avengers, The Planemakers and Dangerman.
He also appeared, during this period, as a lorry driver in Coronation Street and as a taxi boss in Crossroads.
He made his Coronation Street debut as Mike Baldwin in 1976 and remained until 2006 in the role which defined his professional career.
But after leaving, he made appearances in Miss Marple and Holby City as well as in pantomime at Manchester.
Briggs won the British Soap Award for Lifetime Achievement in May 2006 and was made an MBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours in December 2006. He was an avid golfer.
Briggs was one of six of the longest-serving cast members who gathered together to celebrate Coronation Street’s 50th anniversary in 2010.
He said at the time that despite the long service of many actors, it was Weatherfield pub the Rovers Return which was the show’s biggest name.
Briggs said: ‘The true strength of the Street is that there isn’t a star. The star of the show is the Rovers. People come and go and the show still carries on.’
He also returned to the show for a one-off appearance in 2012 for the ‘Text Santa’ charity appeal set up by ITV and BBC One to support UK-based charities during the Christmas period.
Briggs led the tributes to Anne Kirkbride, who played Deirdre Barlow in the show for four decades, following her death in 2015, saying she was ‘worth an Oscar’.
He insisted that for the funeral of his former on-screen lover ‘the streets of Manchester should be closed to traffic and she should get a standing ovation’.