Coronation Street legend Johnny Briggs has sadly passed away today (February 28) aged 85. The cobbles favourite played lothario Mike Baldwin on the soap for 3 decades between 1976 and 2006, appearing in a staggering 2,349 episodes.
In a statement his family 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 is, of course, well-remembered for his on-screen feud with William Roache's Ken Barlow after his affair with Deirdre Barlow (Anne Kirkbride). Upon his eventual exit from the soap in 2006, Mike had a heart attack and passed away in Ken's arms on the cobbles.
John Whiston, MD Continuing Drama and Head of ITV in the North, said in a statement: "The whole Coronation Street family is deeply saddened by the death of Johnny Briggs. 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. He truly was one of the most iconic characters The Street has ever known. We wish Johnny's family all our condolences."
Tributes have been made from the entertainment world, notably his Coronation Street co-stars from across the years.
William Roache paid touching mention of the rivalry between their characters in a statement: "So sorry to hear about Johnny. 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 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!"
Maria Connor actress Samia Longchambon shared: "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."
Kevin Kennedy, known for his portrayal of Curly Watts, said: "Johnny Briggs was a nice guy and absolutely fascinating when he told stories of his extensive film career, sleep well buddy."
Sean Tully star Antony Cotton added: "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..."
Helen Worth, known as Gail Platt on the cobbles, said in a statement: "I am very sorry to hear the sad news, I have many happy memories of working together with Johnny. Mike Baldwin was one of the street's most memorable characters."
Audrey Roberts actress Sue Nicholls also shared: "I am very sad to hear the news. Johnny was a great friend, I knew him before I started in Coronation Street and he was always great fun to be around. I have been watching classic Coronation Street recently and it has brought home to me what a truly great actor he was.
"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 fifteen years ago he will always be part of the street and its history. I send my love and condolences to his family."
Sally Dynevor, known to the street's residents as Sally Metcalfe, noted: "What a wonderful actor he was. Lots of happy memories", whilst Leanne Battersby's Jane Danson said: "So sorry to hear Johnny Briggs has passed away. We did lots of scenes together. I remember he took the Battersby's out for lunch on our first week filming – happy memories."
Coronation Street writer Jonathan Harvey spoke of one particular iconic storyline: "Sad to hear Johnny Briggs has passed away. Always loved writing for his character. Mike's affair with Deirdre was the stuff of legend. He promised her the world... 'Those tight little streets. All the people with tight little minds. That's not the universe.' RIP."
Charlie Lawson, who played Jim McDonald on the soap, stated: "Sad news about Johnny Briggs. We had some laughs, played golf together, fell out for a couple of years and then shook hands and made up."
Further tributes from the wider entertainment world follow:
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