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Ex-Coronation Street star John Savident, who played Fred Elliot in hit soap, dies age 86

Actor John Savident, known for playing Fred Elliott in Coronation Street, has died aged 86, his agent said on Friday.

A statement from his agent said: "We are sad to announce the death of the actor John Savident who died on Wednesday 21 February.

“He was a much-loved husband and father of two and will be sorely missed by all who knew him."

Guernsey-born Savident made his Corrie debut in 1994 and quickly became a fan favourite playing the booming voiced butcher.

His storylines involved his disastrous love life, including three marriages and several failed proposals.

A secret son, Ashley Peacock (Steven Arnold), also arrived on the show and the two later developed a close bond in the butcher shop until his character was killed off on in 2006.

Savident pictured with co-stars John Bowe and Johnnie Briggs in 2000 outside the Rover’s Return (ITV / PUBLICITY PICTURE)
Savident pictured with co-stars John Bowe and Johnnie Briggs in 2000 outside the Rover’s Return (ITV / PUBLICITY PICTURE)

Viewers at the time watched as Elliot suffered a stroke on the day he was supposed to marry Bev Unwin (Susie Blake).

Elliott's death also saw Audrey Roberts (Sue Nicholls) confess that she still loved him following her turning down his proposal of marriage years previously.

The butcher's previous wives also include Maureen Holdsworth (Sherrie Hewson) and barmaid Eve Sykes (Melanie Kilburn).

Following news of Savident’s death, ITV Executive Producer for Continuing Drama Iain MacLeod paid tribute to the actor, branding him one of the soaps “greats”.

He told the Standard: “Everyone at Coronation Street is deeply saddened to learn of John Savident’s death.

“As Fred Elliott, John firmly established himself in the pantheon of Coronation Street greats.

“His peerless comic timing, combined with a deep pathos arising from his outstanding dramatic skill, made Fred an unforgettable, iconic character that provided great joy to viewers for many years.

Savident pictured after Corrie picked up Best Soap at British Soap Awards in 1999 (PA)
Savident pictured after Corrie picked up Best Soap at British Soap Awards in 1999 (PA)

“On behalf of everyone here, I would like to extend condolences to John’s family and close friends at this sad time.”

Outside Corrie, Savident starred in political comedy Yes, Minister, Stanley Kubrick's dystopian thriller A Clockwork Orange, biopic Gandhi, and war film Battle Of Britain.

His other TV work included Doctor Who as well as period dramas The Remains Of The Day and Middlemarch.

The actor was in the first staging of the musical Phantom Of The Opera, in October 1986 at Her Majesty's Theatre in Haymarket, London, as the opera house owner Monsieur Firmin. He returned to play the character in 2011 at the Royal Albert Hall concert film.

After leaving his soap work, Savident appeared on stage in productions of panto Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs and Harold Brighouse's Hobson's Choice.

He was married to theatre director Rona Hopkinson and they had two children.