Published: Thursday 31st December 2015 by The News Editor
A host of stars including household names from showbusiness, politics and sport died in 2015. Here we remember some of them.
The nation was united in grief in August when “national treasure” Cilla Black died aged 72.
The Blind Date and Surprise Surprise TV presenter and singer suffered a stroke after falling and hitting her head at her Spanish villa.
The Liverpudlian star will return to TV screens on Christmas Day, with an hour-long ITV tribute, Our Cilla, featuring celebrity friends Ringo Starr, Sir Cliff Richard and Paul O’Grady.
There was also much sadness when Anne Kirkbride – Coronation Street’s Deirdre Barlow – died from cancer in January.
The 60-year-old actress, who starred in the ITV soap for 44 years, was famous for her oversized-spectacle-wearing, gravel-voiced alter ego, whose on-screen imprisonment for a trumped-up fraud conviction led then prime minister Tony Blair to give his support to the “Free The Weatherfield One” campaign.
Four men best-known for TV comedy also died this year. They included George Cole, famed for playing wheeler-dealer Arthur Daley in Minder, who died in August, aged 90.
The same month Stephen Lewis, who played Inspector Cyril “Blakey” Blake in sitcom On The Buses, died aged 88, as did comedy writer David Nobbs, best known for creating the television character Reginald Perrin, at the age of 80.
Warren Mitchell, who played Alf Garnett in TV series Till Death Us Do Part, died in November, aged 89.
Bafta-winning actress Geraldine McEwan, known for playing Agatha Christie sleuth Miss Marple on television, died “peacefully” in February, aged 82.
Actor Patrick Macnee, best known for playing urbane intelligence agent John Steed in 1960s series The Avengers, died in June, aged 93.
Ventriloquist Keith Harris, famous for his ’80s television act – and pop career – with his puppet duck Orville, died in April, aged 67.
And former Antiques Roadshow presenter Hugh Scully died in October, aged 72.
The world of film was rocked by the deaths of Omar Sharif and Sir Christopher Lee.
Sharif, who starred in Hollywood epics including Lawrence Of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago, died in his native Egypt in June at the age of 83.
Sir Christopher, who also died in June, aged 93, a ppeared in a string of horror films and played a Bond villain in The Man With The Golden Gun before enjoying a career renaissance playing Saruman in the Lord Of The Rings films.
Other actors to die included Ron Moody, who played Fagin in the 1968 Oscar-winning Oliver! Moody, who was nominated for the best actor Oscar, died in June, aged 91.
Leonard Nimoy, who played Mr Spock in sci-fi classic Star Trek on the big and small screens, died in February, aged 83.
Nightmare On Elm Street director Wes Craven died in August, aged 76, and Bollywood actor Saeed Jaffrey, who starred in films including A Passage To India and Gandhi, died in November at 86.
Away from the screen, three much-loved but totally different novelists died.
Jackie Collins, who sold more than 500 million novels in some 40 countries in her four decades-long career as a writer of raunchy female fiction, died of breast cancer in September, aged 77.
Crime writer Ruth Rendell died in May at the age of 85, months after suffering a stroke. One of the best-known names in the genre, she wrote more than 60 best-sellers, including the Inspector Wexford novels.
Best-selling fantasy author Sir Terry Pratchett died in March aged 66 after a very public struggle with Alzheimer’s disease.
Four musical greats from widely different genres also died.
Stand By Me singer Ben E King died at the end of April aged 76.
Hot Chocolate frontman Errol Brown died from liver cancer at his home in the Bahamas in May aged 71.
Irish crooner Val Doonican died in July aged 88.
And at the end of the year, veteran rocker Lemmy, the lead singer of Motorhead, died aged 70 within days of being diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer.
Acerbic art critic and broadcaster Brian Sewell died of cancer in September aged 84.
The world of politics lost several big hitters.
Former Conservative chancellor Geoffrey Howe, the minister whose devastating resignation speech effectively ended Margaret Thatcher’s premiership, died in October aged 88.
His death came just days after that of a long-time opponent, former Labour chancellor Lord Denis Healey, who died aged 98.
While both men reached good ages, there was shock as well as sadness when former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy died in June aged just 55 after struggling with alcoholism.
In January, former home secretary and European Commission vice-president Leon Brittan, Lord Brittan of Spennithorne, died of cancer aged 75.
His death came as controversy continued over the inquiry into child sex abuse allegations triggered by questions surrounding a dossier handed to him while home secretary by then-Conservative MP Geoffrey Dickens.
In sport, warm tributes were paid in April when former Australian cricket captain turned commentator Richie Benaud died aged 84.
There were also two high-profile deaths in the world of motor racing.
In July, Jules Bianchi, the French racer tipped to become a world champion, died aged just 25 after succumbing to devastating head injuries he suffered during the Japanese Grand Prix in October 2014.
Little more than a month later, British racing driver Justin Wilson died after being hit on the head by a piece of flying debris during an IndyCar race in Pennsylvania.
In July, tributes poured in for Sir Nicholas Winton, dubbed “Britain’s Schindler” for saving the lives of Jewish children during the Holocaust, after he died aged 106.
Sir Nicholas organised eight trains to carry 669 children from Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia to London in 1939, fearing they would otherwise be sent to concentration camps.
He also helped to find foster families for the children once they arrived in England, but did not reveal his astonishing bravery for half a century, even to his wife.
Britain’s best-known madam, Cynthia Payne – nicknamed Madame Cyn – died in November, aged 82.
She first hit the headlines in 1978 when police raided a sex party at her suburban home in Streatham, south London, to find elderly men paying for lewd entertainment with luncheon vouchers.
Published: Thursday 31st December 2015 by The News Editor