Inside 2024’s most heartbreaking deaths: From cancer and Covid to a Coronation Street legend and crushing Strictly loss

Only two months in and so much loss

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We’re not even two months into 2024 and already the deaths of some of our most-loved stars have been announced, devastating fans up and down the country.

Just this week, the showbiz world was rocked by the sudden death of Strictly legend Robin Windsor.

Sadly, he joins an incredibly heartbreaking long line of celebrities who have already passed away this year.

Here, ED! pays tribute to the famous faces we’ve loved and lost this year, from the world of soap, TV and showbiz…

Coronation Street star John Savident

The death of Coronation Street legend John Savident was announced this week (February 23).

John played Fred Elliott in the long-running ITV1 drama. He was aged 86.

A statement from his agent to the PA news agency said: “We are sad to announce the death of the actor John Savident who died on Wednesday.” It then added: “He was a much-loved husband and father of two and will be sorely missed by all who knew him.”

His cause of death hasn’t been announced. His character Fred was killed off in 2006, as a result of a stroke on the day he was supposed to marry Bev Unwin.

2024 deaths: Robin Windsor

Robin appeared on Strictly between 2012 and 2014 when he was forced to leave following a back injury.

Despite only being on the show for a handful of years, Robin remained a much-loved member of the Strictly family, both among fans of the show and the professional dancers.

Paying tribute, James Jordan said Robin was “always very caring and fun to be around”.

Robin’s death was announced on February 20, after a frantic three-day search for the star from his friends, such as Strictly pal Vincent Simone. No cause of death has yet been announced. Robin was aged 44 at the time of his death.

Grange Hill star Stuart Organ

Earlier this week (February 23), the death of Grange Hill legend Stuart Organ was announced.

He was one of the show’s longest-serving cast members, playing the show’s Mr Robson for 15 years.

No cause of death has yet been announced. Stuart was aged 72 at the time of his death.

Ewan MacIntosh from The Office
The death of The Office star was announced this month (Credit: Jonathan Hordle/Shutterstock)

2024 deaths: The Office’s Ewan MacIntosh

The death of The Office star Ewan MacIntosh was also announced this week. He played Keith Bishop in the Ricky Gervais comedy show.

Ewan was 50 at the time of his death and no cause has yet been announced. However, it appears that he died in a care home. A statement said: “Ewen suffered from ill health these past two years and passed peacefully on the 19th February from undisclosed causes.”

Ricky Gervais was among those paying tribute. He said: “Extremely sad news. The very funny and very lovely Ewen Macintosh, known to many as ‘Big Keith’ from The Office, has passed away.” He then added: “An absolute original. RIP.”

BBC Radio DJ Steve Wright

The sudden death of Steve Wright was announced on February 13. He was 69 at the time of his death and no cause has yet been revealed.

It has been claimed that Steve was in ill health before his death, though. An ambulance was also called to his London home after “an incident”, emergency services said.

Amid claims that he died “of a broken heart” after his Steve Wright in the Afternoon was axed by the BBC, Steve’s brother spoke out.

His brother Laurence said: “He was aware that he could have looked after himself better, in his lifestyle choices. Obviously we all wish he had. It’s like anyone who doesn’t look after themselves over an extended period. The normal stuff – diet, nutrition, exercise, sleep, stress – he was a very stoic kind of guy as well so if he had something wrong with him and he had to go to have some treatment or go to the doctors, he wouldn’t talk about it.

“He was the kind of guy who would just carry on, take care of it, not talk about it, not make a big thing, that kind of stoic sort of attitude. That’s just how he was – that probably didn’t help really, because he wouldn’t have help or take advice necessarily.”

Ian Lavender

Dad’s Army and EastEnders star Ian Lavender’s death was announced on February 5. He was aged 77.

The actor was known for his role as Private Pike in Dad’s Army. He also starred as Derek Harkinson – a friend of Pauline Fowler –  in BBC soap EastEnders.

He was the last surviving member of the Dad’s Army cast.

The Dad’s Army’s social media accounts announced the sad news. A post read: “We are deeply saddened to hear the passing of the wonderful, Ian Lavender. In what truly marks the end of an era, Ian was the last surviving member of the Dad’s Army main cast.

“His wonderful performance as Private Frank Pike will live on for decades to come. He leaves behind a legacy of laughter enjoyed by millions. We will dedicate this year’s tour to his memory. Our thoughts and love are with Ian’s wonderful wife Miki, their family and close friends.”

Emmerdale star Michael Jayston

ITV1 soap Emmerdale lost one of its stars, actor Michael Jayston, on February 3.

He was 88 and died after a short illness.

Michael also appeared in Only Fools and Horses, Coronation Street and EastEnders.

Jonnie Irwin speaking on A Place In The Sun
Jonnie’s death came as a result of a long battle with incurable cancer (Credit: YouTube)

2024 deaths: Jonnie Irwin

The death of A Place in the Sun presenter Jonnie Irwin was announced on February 2. He was aged 50.

Jonnie died after being diagnosed with incurable cancer. A statement read: “It is with heavy hearts that we share the news of Jonnie’s passing. A truly remarkable soul, he fought bravely against cancer with unwavering strength and courage. Jonnie touched the lives of so many with his kindness, warmth, and infectious spirit.

“At this time, we kindly ask for the privacy of Jonnie’s family as they navigate through this profound loss. Their grief is immeasurable, and your thoughts, prayers, and support are deeply appreciated. As we remember the beautiful moments shared with Jonnie, let us celebrate a life well-lived and a legacy that will forever be etched in our hearts. Jonnie may be gone from our sight, but his love, laughter, and memories will live on.”

He left behind wife Jess and their three young sons.

Gogglebox star Mummy Pat

Stephen Webb announced the death of his mum, fellow Gogglebox star Mummy Pat, on January 29.

“Mummy Pat , you were one in a million, took everyone at face value, would share your last fiver with a stranger, the salt of the earth and the absolute centre of our world! Rest in peace Mum,” Stephen said.

Pat was 75 and died after a long illness. She appeared alongside her son on the Channel 4 show from series 10 to series 12.

2024 deaths: Troy Beckwith

Neighbours star Troy Beckwith passed away at the age of 48 in January. His death was announced on January 29, with his co-star Kym Valentine, who played Libby Kennedy, announcing the news.

His sister also paid tribute, saying “cancer sucks” and that she knows their mum would be “so happy to be reunited with her boy”.

Crossroads star Charmian Abrahams
Crossroads star Charmian Abrahams died earlier this year as a result of a traffic accident (Credit: Supplied)

Crossroads star Charmian Abrahams

Charmian Abrahams, star of iconic soap Crossroads, died aged 96, her family have confirmed.

She was 96 and tragically died as a result of being hit by a delivery van.

A statement released by her family read: “We are devastated that her life has been brought to an end so suddenly and tragically, but we will treasure our memories of her zest for life and the many good times we shared with her.”

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A post shared by Kym Marsh (@marsh_kym)

2024 deaths: Kym Marsh reveals her dad has passed away

Kym Marsh shared the sad news that her dad David had died on January 12. He had been diagnosed with prostate cancer.

A statement revealed the family were “heartbroken” by his death. A couple of days later Kym broke her silence and said: “For the first time in my life….I have no words. I love you dad. Always and forever.”

She then said: “Rest easy Pops. Goodnight God bless.”

Annie Nightingale

The death of legendary DJ Annie Nightingale was announced on January 12. She was aged 83. Her family said that she died at home in London after a short illness.

The statement then added: “Annie was a pioneer, trailblazer, and an inspiration to many. Her impulse to share that enthusiasm with audiences remained undimmed after six decades of broadcasting on BBC TV and radio globally.”

James Morrison’s wife Jill Catchpole

Singer James Morrison lost his wife Jill Catchpole back in January to suicide.

A friend said: “Gill was found dead on Friday at the family’s home in Whitminster.” They then said: “James is devastated and is being supported by his family. He is holding it together for their girls but has asked for the family to be left alone to grieve in private.”

Derek Draper

Kate Garraway announced the death of her beloved husband Derek Draper on January 5. It came almost four years after he first contracted Covid-19. He was 56.

Kate said: “I’m sad to have to tell you all that my darling husband Derek has passed away. As some of you may know he has been critically ill following a cardiac arrest in early December which, because of the damage inflicted by Covid in March 2020, led to further complications.

“Derek was surrounded by his family in his final days and I was by his side holding his hand throughout the last long hours and when he passed. I have so much more to say, and of course I will do so in due course, but for now I just want to thank all the medical teams who fought so hard to save him and to make his final moments as comfortable and dignified as possible.

“Sending so much love and thanks to all of you who have so generously given our family so much support. Rest gently and peacefully now Derek, my love, I was so lucky to have you in my life,” she then added.

Read more: Coroner confirms singer Sinead O’Connor’s cause of death

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Nancy Brown
Associate Editor