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Friday 10th July 2020

Emmerdale leads the tributes to show legend Sheila Mercier who has died aged 100

She played Annie Sugden in the ITV soap

Sheila Mercier, who plays the legendary Annie Sugden in Emmerdale has died.

The former soap star - who was in the ITV show from 1972 until 1994 - has passed away peacefully in her sleep at the age of 100.

Sheila played Annie on and off from 1972 until 2009 (Credit: ITV/YouTube)

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Former co-star Frederick Pyne, who played Matt Skilbeck in Emmerdale Farm from its launch in 1972 until 1989, announced the sad news on social media.

He wrote: "Sad to tell all you Emmerdale fans that Sheila Mercier, Annie Sugden, died peacefully in her sleep… She would have been 101 years old on New Years Day. She was a great character and wonderful to work with. (sic)"

Emmerdale lead the tributes with an Instagram post.

Actors Mark Charnock, who plays Marlon Dingle and Claire King, aka Kim Tate, lead the cast tributes.

Sheila first joined the soap in 1972 and continued to be a main character until 1994, but she did make the occasional appearance after then - notably for her on-screen son Joe's funeral in 1995 and again in 2009 for her son Jack's funeral.

Sheila's husband Peter Mercier died in 1993 after 42 years of marriage.

RIP Sheila Mercier, the beating heart of Emmerdale, never forgotten.

They have a son together called Nigel who works in the television industry.

The legendary actress - who was born in Hull, Yorkshire - kickstarted her career in 1939 when she was talent spotted at the Stratford-upon-Avon College of Drama.

Annie is a legend at Emmerdale (Credit: ITV/YouTube)

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She then toured with a Shakespeare company until 1939 before she landed roles in the theatre productions of 'Hay Fever' and 'The Eagle with Two Heads'.

Sheila also released an autobiography in 1994 titled 'Annie’s Song: My Life & Emmerdale' and in it she revealed she had been raped by an officer in the war.

The alleged incident lead to her falling pregnant with a baby girl, who she later put up for adoption, but they came back into contact with one another 30 years later.

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