Beloved Soap Opera Star John Savident Dead at 86

The actor starred as Fred Elliott for 12 years on the Manchester-based ITV soap 'Coronation Street.'

John Savident, best known for playing Fred Elliott in Coronation Street, has died. The actor passed away on Wednesday, Feb. 21 at the age of 86, according to a statement from his agent to the PA news agency, per the BBC. A cause of death was not disclosed.

"We are sad to announce the death of the actor John Savident who died on Wednesday 21 February," the statement read. "He was a much-loved husband and father of two, and will be sorely missed by all who knew him."

Savident first arrived on the famous cobbles of the Manchester-based ITV soap in 1994, quickly becoming a fan favorite. His character, a butcher, was involved in several storylines, including three marriages and several failed proposals. After a secret son, Ashley Peacock (Steven Arnold), also arrived on the show, the pair developed a close bond as they worked as butchers together. Savident ultimately left the series in 2006 when his character suffered a stroke and died on the day he was supposed to marry Bev Unwin (Susie Blake). Amid his death, Audrey Roberts, played by Sue Nicholls, admitted she still loved Fred, despite having turned down his marriage proposal years earlier. Savident's final episode was watched by 11 million viewers, according to the Daily Mail.

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

Outside of Coronation Street, Savident appeared in the political comedy Yes, Minister, the biopic Gandhi, Stanley Kubrick's dystopian thriller A Clockwork Orange, and the war film Battle Of Britain. He also starred in Doctor Who, Middlemarch, and 1993's Oscar-nominated The Remains Of The Day opposite Sir Anthony Hopkins. Savident also had a stage presence, having appeared in the first staging of the musical Phantom Of The Opera in 1986 as the opera house owner Monsieur Firmin, a role he reprised in 2011 at the Royal Albert Hall concert film. He was married to theatre director Rona Hopkinson and they had two children.