Stars and friends say farewell at Bill Tarmey funeral

Stars of 'Coronation Street' and friends of the late Bill Tarmey have gathered to pay their final respects at his funeral in Manchester.

Final farewell: Family and friends gather for Bill Tarmey's funeral (Credit: PA)

The man who played loveable rogue Jack Duckworth for over three decades was laid to rest at the Albion United Reform Church in Ashton-Under-Lyne on the outskirts of the city.

Past and present members of the 'Coronation Street' cast were among the mourners at the funeral including Liz Dawn, who played Bill's on-screen wife Vera.

Other cast attending included Jennie McAlpine (Fiz) and Kate Ford (Tracy), along with Kevin Kennedy, who played Curly Watts in the ITV soap.

Bill's granddaughter, Naomi, described him as a "hero of a man" who was "loved by all" during the service.

Former co-star Samia Ghadie, who plays Maria Connor, gave a eulogy saying how "he made me laugh so much that I'd cry".

Alan Halsall, who plays Tyrone Dobbs, paid tribute on Twitter, saying: "Today is going to be tough, but also a day to remember & thank a huge influence in my life! R.I.P Bill I love you xx (sic)."

Past and present: Corrie stars from across the years pay their respects (Credit: PA)

Tarmey, who was among the show's most famous characters, died on November 9 while on holiday in Tenerife. He was 71.

He joined the cast of the northern soap in 1977 as an extra to supplement his earnings as a club singer. He had also worked as an asphalt spreader.

But he landed the role of Jack Duckworth two years later, becoming a firm favourite with fans and known for his trademark National Health specs stuck together with a sticking plaster.

His marriage to nagging wife Vera, played by Liz Dawn, became the show's most enduring and touching relationship.

Heartfelt goodbye: Bill's on-screen wife Liz Dawn was among the mourners (Credit: PA)

In real life, he wed his childhood sweetheart Alma in 1962, having two children Carl and Sara.

But he also suffered poor health, having a heart attack aged 35, and then a stroke at 36. He also had two heart bypass surgeries, the most recent in 2002.

Tarmey made an emotional departure from the show in 2010, to look after son Carl who had sufffered a brain tumour.

Despite his chronic health problems, he refused to quit smoking. He said: “I could make it easier on myself. I could give up smoking. I could sit in a rocking chair. But that wouldn't be me. That would kill me sooner than the old ticker.

“If I die tomorrow, they'll have to prise the smile off my face because I've had such a good life.”