Soap opera stalwart Meg Johnson has died at the age of 86 after battling dementia “for the last few years”, it has been confirmed.
A joint statement from her family, talent agency Jorg Betts Associates, and the ITV show revealed the passing of “kind and wonderful” Johnson, who had played Pearl Ladderbanks in Emmerdale since 2003.
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.
“Meg had an outstanding career that ended with her playing Pearl Ladderbanks in Emmerdale from 2003.
“Meg had dementia for the last few years, but battled on personally and professionally regardless.
“She will be greatly missed by everyone who knew her.”
Numerous soap opera stars, including Danny Miller, who is best known for portraying Aaron Dingle in the enduring ITV drama Emmerdale, paid tribute to Johnson on social media.
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. Shared many laughs with her and Dominic on set.”
Meanwhile former Emmerdale star Gemma Oaten, who played Rachel Breckle from 2011 to 2015, said late cast mates Shirley Stelfox, Freddie Jones, and Richard Thorp “will take good care of her up there”.
She tweeted: “Sending so much love to the @emmerdale family and family of the late and great Meg Johnson.
“A beautiful woman inside and out, who was always so kind to me during my #Emmerdale days.”
She later wrote: “Such a sad loss, but what a life and what a treasure she was. She was always so kind (and wickedly funny!).”
Johnson spent several years portraying Brigid McKenna in the Channel 4 serial drama Brookside before joining Emmerdale.
She played Eunice Gee in the first few seasons of ITV’s Coronation Street, a role she temporarily returned to in 1999.
Along with the late comedian, Dame Julie Walters, and Celia Imrie, she also appeared in Victoria Wood As Seen On TV.
She appeared on stage in the original cast of the London production of Chicago in 1997, playing prison warder Matron Mama Morton for more than a year. She can be heard singing When You’re Good To Mama, Me and My Baby, and Class on the London Cast Recording of Chicago.
Charles Foster, an ITV Granada continuity announcer who was widely believed to have passed away earlier this year, was Johnson’s husband.