celebrity-deaths-2021:-the-famous-faces-who-have-tragically-died-this-year

Celebrity deaths 2021: The famous faces who have tragically died this year

After entering 2021 with a return of restrictions, there was hope of a fresh start as spring arrived.

Despite the trials and tribulations the coronavirus pandemic, there was plenty to smile about over the summer.

But as we lived through another extraordinary year, 2021 has also dealt many other sad blows as many famous faces from stage, screen and sport – including a number of Greater Manchester’s own – have all tragically died.

READ MORE: What post-New Year’s Eve Covid restrictions could look like in England – seven options

The year isn’t out yet, but here’s a look at the people we’ve lost, but will continue to remember, in 2021:

Mark Eden



Mark Eden and Sue Nicholls

Coronation Street actor Mark Eden died at the age of 92 on January 1, 2021.

Eden, who played the legendary Corrie villain Alan Bradley, died after living with Alzheimer’s.

The actor played Alan Bradley for three years and his abusive character is famed for the scene in which he was struck and killed by a Blackpool tram while chasing his partner Rita Fairclough in 1989.

Mark had been married to fellow Weatherfield icon Sue Nicholls, who plays Audrey Roberts in the soap, since 1993.

He is survived by his wife Sue, his daughter Polly, his stepson Paul and grand-daughter Emma.

Gerry Marsden



Gerry Marsden

The Gerry and the Pacemakers star died at the age of 78 in January after being diagnosed with a blood infection in his heart.

The legendary musician is known for being the singer of the Liverpool anthem You’ll Never Walk Alone.

Marsden was awarded an MBE in 2003 for his services supporting the victims of the Hillsborough disaster.

Sir Paul McCartney was among those who paid tribute to his fellow Merseyside singer and “long-time friend”.

Colin Bell



Colin Bell

Manchester City great Colin Bell died in January at the age of 74.

Known as the ‘King of the Kippax’, the midfielder played 492 times for City, scoring 152 goals and helping them secure trophies that included the First Division title in 1968.

Bell also won 48 England caps.

Johnny Briggs



Johnny Briggs

Coronation Street actor Johnny Briggs died aged 85 after a long illness.

The news of his passing was announced in March.

Briggs was well known for his role as Mike Baldwin in the long-running ITV soap and most memorably had an affair with Ken Barlow’s wife Deirdre, which came to a head in a dramatic doorstep confrontation in 1983.

The affair even made national headlines when Deirdre reconciled with Ken.



Johnny Briggs, with children (left to right) Mark, Stephanie, and Michael, 26, after collecting an MBE

Johnny’s final scenes as Mike ironically were with his nemesis Ken, who cradled him as he lay dying after suffering a massive heart attack after he escaped from the hospital and made it back to his beloved factory on Coronation Street.

Tributes from the cast of Corrie, past and present, flooded in for Briggs. William Roache described him as an ‘impeccable’ actor who he said he was fortunate to have worked with for so many years.

Captain Sir Tom Moore



Captain Sir Tom Moore

After capturing the hearts of the nation during the first lockdown in 2020, Captain Sir Tom Moore passed away in February this year.

The 100-year-old, who raised more than £39m for NHS charities by walking laps of his garden, died in hospital with his family by his side after being treated for pneumonia and testing positive for coronavirus.

The World War II veteran was laid to rest in a private ceremony in March.

Singer Michael Buble recorded a version of the song Smile, which was played at the funeral, while other music included The White Cliffs Of Dover by Dame Vera Lynn, I Vow To Thee My Country by Alfie Boe and My Way by Frank Sinatra.

The service opened with the charity single Sir Tom recorded with Michael Ball and the NHS Voices of Care Choir, You’ll Never Walk Alone, which reached number one in the UK singles charts in April last year.

Trevor Peacock



The Vicar Of Dibley actor Trevor Peacock

Trevor Peacock, who starred in The Vicar of Dibley, died aged 89, in March.

He remains best known for playing Jim Trott in the BBC comedy series opposite Dawn French.

He is famed for the character and Jim’s iconic “No no no no” catchphrase.

A statement on behalf of his family said: “Trevor Peacock, actor, writer and song-writer, died aged 89 on the morning of March 8th from a dementia-related illness.”

He was diagnosed with dementia in 2009 and it was reported in 2017 that he had retired from acting.



Picture shows (L-R) Liz Smith as Letitia Cropley, James Fleet as Hugo Horton, Roger Lloyd-Pack as Owen Newitt, Dawn French as Geraldine Granger, John Bluthal as Frank Pickle, Gary Waldhorn as David Horton and Trevor Peacock as Jim Trott

His TV credits extend way beyond the Vicar of Dibley with roles including Rouault in Madame Bovary, Quilp in The Old Curiosity Shop and Old Bailey in Neverwhere.

Peacock also appeared in EastEnders, Jonathan Creek, The Thin Blue Line and My Family.

Paul Ritter



Paul Ritter

In April, Paul Ritter, star of Friday Night Dinner, died aged 54.

The actor, who also appeared in Harry Potter, died at home with his wife Polly and sons Frank and Noah by his side after suffering from a brain tumour.

Ritter was best known for his roles in films including Quantum of Solace, Son of Rambow and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

He joined Channel 4 comedy series Friday Night Dinner in 2011 where he played Martin Goodman.

More recent roles included appearances in Vera, Chernobyl, The Trial of Christine Keeler, and Belgravia.

In May he appeared in the Friday Night Dinner 10th anniversary special which was filmed shortly before Paul passed away on April 5. He is said to have insisted on appearing in the one-off episode.

Helen McCrory



Helen McCrory

The nation was shocked to hear the news of the death of “beautiful and mighty” actress Helen McCroy in April.

Her husband Damian Lewis confirmed she had died peacefully at home from breast cancer aged 52.

McCrory was best known for playing Aunt Polly in Peaky Blinders and Narcissa Malfoy in the Harry Potter franchise, and also starred in James Bond film Skyfall.



Husband Damian Lewis announced the news

Lewis tweeted at the time: “I’m heartbroken to announce that after a heroic battle with cancer, the beautiful and mighty woman that is Helen McCrory has died peacefully at home, surrounded by a wave of love from friends and family. She died as she lived. Fearlessly.

“God we love her and know how lucky we are to have had her in our lives. She blazed so brightly. Go now, Little One, into the air, and thank you.”

Joey Jordison

One of the founding members of metal band Slipknot, Jordison died aged 46 in July.

The drummer established the group with percussionist Shawn Crahan and bassist Paul Gray in 1995 and they went on to global and chart success.

Una Stubbs



Una Stubbs

Best known for her roles in the film Summer Holiday and BBC’s Till Death Us Do Part, Una Stubbs died, aged 84, in August.

The actress, who also starred as Aunt Sally in Worzel Gummidge, had been ill for a few months.

Stubbs died surrounded by her family at her home in Edinburgh, her agent said at the time.

Summer Holiday co-star Sir Cliff Richard hailed her as “gorgeous” and “wonderful” following the news of her death.

Stubbs also played Miss Bat in the Worst Witch, and later appeared in Sherlock and hit soap EastEnders, among a number of other television shows.

Sean Lock



Sean Lock

Sean Lock died from lung cancer after a private battle with the disease.

The comedian and 8 Out of Ten Cats star’s death was announced by his agent in August.

Off The Kerb Productions said Lock “died at home from cancer, surrounded by his family,” at the age of 58.

Fellow comedian Bill Bailey told ITV that the 15 Storeys High star had been diagnosed with “advanced” lung cancer “a few years ago”.

Sean had previously been diagnosed with skin cancer 31 years ago.

The malignant melanoma discovery was made after a one-night stand noticed he had a ‘black, misshapen and crusty’ mark on his back in 1990, Sean said in an interview back in 2010.

Charlie Watts



Charlie Watts The Rolling Stones performing at Manchester United Old Trafford Stadium

The Rolling Stones star was hailed as “one of the greatest drummers of his generation” following his death at the age of 80.

He passed away peacefully in August in a London hospital, his publicist Bernard Doherty said in a statement at the time.

The musician, who marked his 80th birthday in June, had been a member of the rock group since 1963 and played on classic tracks including (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction, Paint It Black, Jumpin’ Jack Flash and Brown Sugar.

Before his death it was announced that Watts was to miss the band’s forthcoming US tour.

Sarah Harding



Sarah Harding

Girls Aloud singer Sarah Harding died aged 39 in September after being diagnosed with cancer.

The pop star told fans last August that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer, which had spread to other parts of her body.

Her mum Marie announced the death on Instagram and described her “beautiful” daughter as “a bright shining star”.

Harding, who grew up in Stockport, shot to fame as part of Girls Aloud on Popstars: The Rivals in 2002 after being put together on the show judged by Pete Waterman, Louis Walsh and Geri Halliwell.

The group went on to score the Christmas number one that year with their debut single Sound Of The Underground before becoming one of the country’s biggest girl-bands.

John Challis



John Challis

Actor John Challis, who played Boycie in Only Fools And Horses, died, aged 79, in September.

His family said in a statement that the sitcom legend died peacefully in his sleep, after a long battle with cancer.

John had an extensive television career but is best known for portraying Terrance Aubrey ‘Boycie’ Boyce in the long-running BBC sitcom Only Fools and Horses from 1981 to 2003 and its spin-off The Green Green Grass.



John Challis as Boycie and David Jason as Delboy Trotter

He also played Monty Staines in the ITV sitcom Benidorm.

Sir David Jason, who starred as Derek ‘Del Boy’ Trotter in Only Fools and Horses, described John as “a gentleman in the true sense of the word.”

Roger Hunt

Roger Hunt’s death, at the age of 83, was announced in September.

The former footballer was part of the England line-up for the 1966 World Cup final, was Liverpool’s record league scorer with 244 goals and is second on the Reds’ list in terms of his overall tally of 285, behind Ian Rush.

He helped them, under Bill Shankly, get out of the old Second Division in 1962 and subsequently win top-flight titles in 1964 and 1966, plus the FA Cup in 1965.

Jimmy Greaves

Jimmy Greaves, who famously sat out England’s 1966 World Cup triumph after being replaced in the side by Geoff Hurst at the quarter-final stage, died in September aged 81.

He scored 44 goals in 57 appearances for his country, which places him as their fifth-highest scorer.

Greaves won two FA Cups and the European Cup Winners’ Cup with Tottenham, and scored 266 goals in 379 matches, and also scored 132 goals for his first club Chelsea.

Robert Fyfe



Robert Fyfe in Last of the Summer Wine

Robert Fyfe, who played Howard in Last of the Summer Wine, died at the age of 90 in September.

The actor, from Kirkcaldy, Fife, portrayed the shy and downtrodden husband of battleaxe Pearl Sibshaw on screen from 1985 until the beloved sitcom’s cancellation in 2010.

He was known to viewers for his affair with the peroxide blonde Marina and his often unsuccessful attempts at hiding their dalliance from his wife.

His wife Diana died a few weeks before him, leaving sons Timothy, Nicholas and Dominic.

James Michael Tyler



James Michael Tyler

James Michael Tyler, famed for his role as Gunther in Friends, died in October, aged 59.

Jennifer Aniston led tributes to the sitcom star known for portraying the role of the blonde-haired, quirky Central Perk manager, who died at his home in Los Angeles after being diagnosed with prostate cancer, his representatives said.

Tyler revealed in June he had prostate cancer, telling a US TV show he was diagnosed with an advanced form of the disease in 2018 which had spread to his bones.

The actor, whose other TV roles included teen sitcom Sabrina, The Teenage Witch and medical comedy Scrubs, appeared via video link during the much-anticipated Friends Reunion earlier this year.

It was afterwards he revealed he was battling prostate cancer and that it was the reason he did not attend the Friends reunion in person after fans pointed out his absence.

Lionel Blair



Lionel Blair

Entertainer Lionel Blair died at the age of 92 in November.

The actor, tap dancer, presenter and choreographer was declared a “showbiz trooper” and received tributes from members of the industry such as Bonnie Langford and Julian Clary.

Blair was known for his glittering career spanning 70 years which included appearing as a captain on Give Us a Clue opposite Una Stubbs.

In recent years he appeared on Celebrity Big Brother and The Real Marigold Hotel.

Virgil Abloh



Virgil Abloh

Louis Vuitton designer Virgil Abloh died aged 41 after a private cancer battle.

A host of celebrities including Hailey Beiber, Kanye West and Drake all paid tribute to the pioneering designer after the news was announced.

Abloh is best known for his work with Louis Vuitton, having joined them as a creative director in 2018. He started his fashion career with Fendi in 2009.

He died in September after suffering from a rare form of cancer – cardiac angiosarcoma – for two years.

Carlos Marin



Carlos Marin

Simon Cowell was among the many stars and fans to have paid tribute to Il Divo singer Carlos Marin after his death.

The group announced the news of their bandmate’s passing, aged 53, before Christmas.

On December 16, Il Divo had posted that Marín was “in the hospital” and that they were “hoping and praying for a speedy recovery”.

It is reported that Marín had fallen ill on December 7 and was placed in an induced coma at the Manchester Royal Infirmary Hospital.

Classical crossover group Il Divo, comprised of a global melting pot of singing stars, was formed by Cowell in 2003 under his SyCo record label, though they later parted ways with the music mogul.

Nikki Grahame



Nikki Grahame

Popular Big Brother star Nikki Grahame tragically died in April following a battle with anorexia.

Tributes poured in for the 38-year-old who shot to fame when she appeared on Big Brother seven in 2006.

The show, hosted then by Davina McCall, produced countless reality TV stars including Nikki who was so popular she returned for Ultimate Big Brother in 2010 and appeared on the BB spin-off show on numerous occasions.

Janice Long



Janice Long

Celebrated radio DJ Janice Long died aged 66 on Christmas Day.

Long, best known as a presenter on BBC Radio 1, Radio 2 and Top of the Pops, died after a short illness at home, her agent confirmed.

In an influential career spanning five decades, she was the first woman to have her own daily show on Radio 1 and also the first woman to present Top of the Pops.

She also had a late-night slot on Radio 2 and was one of the main presenters of the Live Aid charity concert in 1985.

Since 2017 she hosted the evening show on BBC Radio Wales.

Sally Ann Howes



Sally Ann Howes

Actress Sally Ann Howes died at the age of 91 in December.

Howes enjoyed a stellar career spanning more than six decades across stage, screen, and television.

She is best known for her role as Truly Scrumptious in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang alongside Dick Van Dyke but became a household name when she replaced Julie Andrews in My Fair Lady on Broadway.

Bishop Desmond Tutu



Bishop Desmond Tutu

Desmond Tutu, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning activist for racial justice and LGBT rights, died aged 90.

Announcing the death, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said it was ‘another chapter of bereavement in our nation’s farewell to a generation of outstanding South Africans who have bequeathed us a liberated South Africa’.

An uncompromising foe of apartheid in South Africa, Tutu worked tirelessly and peacefully for its downfall.

The buoyant, blunt-spoken clergyman used his pulpit as the first black bishop of Johannesburg and later Archbishop of Cape Town as well as frequent public demonstrations to galvanise public opinion against racial inequity both at home and globally.

Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh



Duke of Edinburgh

The most notable death in 2021 was that of the Duke of Edinburgh in April.

Prince Philip died, aged 99, with the news being announced by Buckingham Palace on behalf of the Queen in a statement.

It said the Duke had “peacefully” passed away at Windsor Castle.

The funeral, held on April 17, was limited to 30 guests and other adjustments were made in line with Covid guidelines.

Queen Elizabeth II was separated from her family during the service held at St George’s Chapel in the grounds of Windsor Castle.

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