In a statement, ITV reported that the 79-year-old had died following a short illness. It said: “It is with great sadness that Coronation Street confirms legendary creator and acclaimed writer Tony Warren MBE passed away peacefully last night surrounded by his loving friends. All who worked with Tony throughout his illustrious career had the utmost respect for his achievements and he remained a consultant on the Manchester-based soap until the day he died.”
The statement also said that Warren was considered on of TV’s “greatest minds”.
It’s with great sadness that Coronation Street confirms legendary creator & writer Tony Warren,MBE has passed away. pic.twitter.com/WhwInLMVaL
— Coronation Street (@itvcorrie) March 2, 2016
Anthony Cotton, who plays barman and Underworld machinist Sean Tully, tweeted: “With heavy heart & great sadness I can confirm that our pal Tony Warren has died. He leaves the greatest legacy. I’ll miss him so much.”
Warren was born Anthony McVay Simpson in Pendlebury near Manchester and started out as a child actor, most notably as a regular on the BBC’s Children’s Hour. While working there he performed with many of the people, who formed the main cast of Coronation Street when it launched in 1960. Among them were Violet Carson, better known as Weatherfield battleaxe Ena Sharples, and Doris Speed, who played the snobby landlord of the Rovers Return pub.
Warren was only 24 years old when he created the soap, originally named Florizel Street.
BBC producer Olive Shapley, who had worked with Warren on Children’s Hour, said that the idea for the soap came to him late one night in 1959 as they were returning to Manchester by train.
“At about Crewe, after a long period of silence, Tony suddenly woke me up saying, ‘Olive, I’ve got this wonderful idea for a television series,” recalled Shapley. “I can see a little back street in Salford, with a pub at one end and a shop at the other, and all the lives of the people there, just ordinary things and …’ I looked at him blearily and said ‘Oh. Tony, how boring! Go back to sleep.’ … Tony has never let me forget my error of judgement.”
In 1960, Granada Television commissioned a script from Warren, who wrote the first 13 episodes of the soap, which was first broadcast on 9 December that same year. Warren continued to write scripts until 1968 before moving on to other projects, including a series of critically acclaimed novels.