Soap opera stalwart Meg Johnson has died at the age of 86 after battling dementia “for the last few years”, it has been confirmed.
The death of “kind and wonderful” Johnson, who had played Pearl Ladderbanks in Emmerdale since 2003, was announced in a joint statement from her family, talent agency Jorg Betts Associates and the ITV show.
It said: “It is with great sadness that we announce that actress Meg Johnson passed away peacefully yesterday evening surrounded by her family.
“Meg was a kind and wonderful lady, full of warmth and always with a twinkle in her eye.
“Meg had an outstanding career that ended with her playing Pearl Ladderbanks in Emmerdale from 2003.
“Meg had dementia for the last few years, but battled on personally and professionally regardless.
“She will be greatly missed by everyone who knew her.”
Prior to joining Emmerdale, Johnson spent several years playing Brigid McKenna in Channel 4 soap opera Brookside.
In the early 1980s, she starred as Eunice Gee in ITV’s Coronation Street, a character she briefly reprised in 1999.
She was also part of the cast of Victoria Wood As Seen On TV alongside the late comedian as well as Dame Julie Walters and Celia Imrie.
In 1997, she took to the stage in the original cast of the London revival of Chicago, playing prison warder Matron Mama Morton for more than a year, and can be heard on the London Cast Recording of Chicago, singing When You’re Good To Mama, Me And My Baby, and Class.
Johnson was married to ITV Granada continuity announcer Charles Foster, who was widely reported to have died earlier this year.