Emmerdale actress Meg Johnson – who played Pearl Ladderbanks on the ITV soap – has died.
The 86-year-old was described as a “kind and wonderful lady” in a joint statement from her family, talent agency Jorg Betts Associates and the ITV show.
It said: “It is with great sadness that we announce that actress Meg Johnson passed away peacefully yesterday evening surrounded by her family.
“Meg was a kind and wonderful lady, full of warmth and always with a twinkle in her eye.”
The statement said Johnson had dementia for the past few years, but “battled on personally and professionally regardless”.
“She will be greatly missed by everyone who knew her,” it added.
Johnson played Pearl Ladderbanks in the ITV soap from 2003. In the early 1980s, she starred as Eunice Gee in ITV’s Coronation Street, a character she briefly reprised in 1999.
Danny Miller, best known for playing fan favourite Aaron Dingle in Emmerdale, paid tribute to Johnson.
The actor, who was crowned king of the I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! castle in 2021, tweeted: “Truly devastated to hear this. Pearl was a fair way to describe our lovely Meg.
“The creator of ‘pigs bum!!’ – should she ever forget her lines, and a loved soul throughout the building.”
In another tribute, actress Lisa Riley who is best known for portraying Mandy Dingle in Emmerdale, tweeted that Johnson taught her “discipline, respect, comedy, and how not to take life to (sic) seriously.”
She added: “You are the true meaning of the words-wonderful woman. your energy lives on, because you were so very special. R.I.P. Meg.”
Prior to joining Emmerdale, Johnson spent several years playing Brigid McKenna in Channel 4 soap opera Brookside.
Johnson was also part of the cast of Victoria Wood As Seen On TV alongside the late comedian as well as Dame Julie Walters and Celia Imrie.
In 1997, she took to the stage in the original cast of the London revival of Chicago, playing prison warder Matron Mama Morton for more than a year, and can be heard on the London Cast Recording of Chicago, singing When You’re Good To Mama, Me And My Baby, and Class.
Johnson was married to ITV Granada continuity announcer Charles Foster, who was widely reported to have died earlier this year.