Edna Birch, Emmerdale, 2015

The actress, best known for playing Edna Birch on the ITV soap, passed away at her home on Monday morning (7 December) following a short battle with cancer.

A statement from ITV said Edna had “passed away peacefully” with her daughter Helena by her side.

John Whiston, MD of Continuing Drama and head of ITV in the North, paid tribute on behalf the soap’s cast and crew, saying: “The family here at Emmerdale are deeply saddened by Shirley’s passing, it is hard to imagine Emmerdale without her. We offer our condolences to Shirley’s family and share our feeling of loss with the millions of viewers who will miss Edna enormously.”

Shirley had played Edna for the last 15 years.

The actress had trained at RADA before appearing in TV shows including Keeping Up Appearances, playing the original Rose, and Common As Muck, as well as TV movie Pat and Margaret. She also appeared extensively on stage.

Following the news of her death, the late star’s name began trending on Twitter as fans and co-stars paid their condolences.

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