AceShowbiz - Beloved British soap star Sheila Mercier has died aged 100.
The star, born in the English town of Hull, played Annie Sugden in "Emmerdale" from its first episode in 1972 until 1994 and continued to make guest appearances up until 2009.
A spokesperson for ITV confirmed Mercier's death in a statement on Friday, December 13 night, sharing, "It's always sad to hear of the death of an actor who played a significant part in Emmerdale's success. Even more so when that actor was in the very first episode and around whose family the show was built."
Following the news, Claire King, who plays Kim Tate in the show, described Mercier as the soap's "beating heart," while Marlon Dingle actor Mark Charnock, also paid tribute to Mercier, remembering, "What an iconic character Annie Sugden was."
"(I) used to watch it with my grandparents as a boy, so to meet her in later years was a thrill."
Sheila was widowed in 1993 and lost her son, Nigel, in 2017. Her brother was the late Lord Rix.