IT’S the end of an era on Coronation Street.
Liz Dawn, battling an incurable lung disease, is to quit her role as Vera Duckworth after 34 years on the cobbles.
The veteran actress, now 68, will depart later this year.
Her battleaxe character will not be killed off, leaving the door open for possible future guest appearances.
But, sadly, she now feels unable to carry on as before alongside screen husband Jack, played by Bill Tarmey.
“It’s been an amazing 34 years,” she said.
“I’d like to thank everyone for what has been the best time of my life.”
Liz was diagnosed with chronic emphysema three years ago and had already reduced her workload on the Street.
Her illness – linked to smoking and advanced age – leaves the lungs inflamed.
Sufferers become short of breath as the disease gradually worsens.
Liz was a heavy smoker for more than 40 years until a cancer scare and helped raise £1m for a breast cancer unit at St James’s Hospital in her home town of Leeds.
Both her parents died of cancer.
Liz received an MBE from the Queen in 2000 and has made regular visits to hospital.
Two years ago she said: “I’m just grateful that I have found a fantastic specialist who has been able to sort out my medication so that I can carry on doing what I love, which is being a mum and a grandma and working on Coronation Street.”
Corrie bosses have given both Liz and Bill fewer scenes in a bid to keep both in the show.
A recent storyline where Vera has been laid up after spraining her ankle was designed to give Liz even less to worry about while on set.
Now she simply feels too ill to carry on in her role.
Bill will continue to play Jack, despite his own advancing age and problems with heart disease.
Corrie’s executive producer Kieran Roberts says: “After 34 years as Vera, Liz has taken a decision to relax and enjoy her retirement.
“We’re currently devising storylines for her character’s departure from Weatherfield but we would prefer not to reveal details at the moment.
“We’re indebted to her for all she has achieved during her years as Vera Duckworth.
“She is a star and is loved by ITV. We will always miss this wonderful lady and first rate actress and we are delighted that she’s agreed to return to the soap in the future.”
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