John Savident, known as Fred Elliott on Coronation Street, dies aged 86

Coronation Street actor John Savident has died, his representative has said.

The 86-year-old was known for his booming voice while playing butcher Fred Elliott on the ITV soap.

A statement from his agent to the PA news agency said: “We are sad to announce the death of the actor John Savident who died on Wednesday February 21.

“He was a much-loved husband and father of two and will be sorely missed by all who knew him.”

Members of the Coronation Street cast at the British Soap Awards in 1999, from left, Bill Roache, David Neilson, John Savident, Steve Billington and Julie Hesmondhalgh
Members of the Coronation Street cast at the British Soap Awards in 1999, from left, Bill Roache, David Neilson, John Savident, Steve Billington and Julie Hesmondhalgh (PA)

In 1994, Savident arrived on the cobbles and quickly became a fan favourite.

His storylines involved his disastrous love life, including three marriages and several failed proposals.

A secret son, Ashley Peacock (Steven Arnold), also arrived on the show and the two later developed a close bond as they worked as butchers together.

Savident’s character was killed off in 2006, suffering a stroke on the day he was supposed to marry Bev Unwin (Susie Blake).

Coronation St Paris Fred & Audrey
Coronation Street stars John Savident as Fred Elliott and Sue Nicholls as Audrey Roberts (John Stillwell/PA)

Elliott’s death also saw Audrey Roberts (Sue Nicholls) confess that she still loved him following her turning down his proposal of marriage years previously.

Nicholls said: “I am very sad to hear of John’s passing. My memories of working with you dear John on the street are a joy, and always will be.

“God bless you and thank you for being in my life. Much love to you and your friends and family.”

The butcher’s previous wives also include Maureen Holdsworth (Sherrie Hewson) and barmaid Eve Sykes (Melanie Kilburn).

Iain MacLeod, ITV’s executive producer for continuing drama, said: “Everyone at Coronation Street is deeply saddened to learn of John Savident’s death.

“As Fred Elliott, John firmly established himself in the pantheon of Coronation Street greats. His peerless comic timing, combined with a deep pathos arising from his outstanding dramatic skill, made Fred an unforgettable, iconic character that provided great joy to viewers for many years.

“On behalf of everyone here, I would like to extend condolences to John’s family and close friends at this sad time.”

When he won the best comedy performance British Soap Awards, at the first ceremony in 1999, Savident dedicated his award to Arnold, saying he “wants to give this also to someone who helps me an awful lot and without which Fred couldn’t function”.

“So Steven, you can have a rub of this, you can have a rub of this in a bit,” he added in his character’s Lancashire accent, after he was presented with the prize by The Royle Family star Caroline Aherne.

Outside Coronation Street, Savident was in political comedy Yes, Minister, Stanley Kubrick’s dystopian thriller A Clockwork Orange, biopic Gandhi, war film Battle Of Britain, science fiction series Doctor Who and period dramas The Remains Of The Day and Middlemarch.

He was in the first staging of the musical Phantom Of The Opera, in October 1986 at Her Majesty’s Theatre in Haymarket, London, as the opera house owner Monsieur Firmin.

He returned to play the character in 2011 at the Royal Albert Hall concert film.

After leaving his soap work, Savident appeared on stage in productions of panto Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs and Harold Brighouse’s Hobson’s Choice.

Savident was married to theatre director Rona Hopkinson and they had two children.