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John Savident death: Coronation Street legend dies aged 86

Actor was best known for playing butcher Fred Elliott in ITV soap

Nicole Vassell
Friday 23 February 2024 11:23 GMT
Ken Barlow says goodbye to Eccles the dog in Coronation Street

Coronation Street legend John Savident has died aged 86.

The actor was best known for playing the butcher Fred Elliott in the ITV soap.

Savident’s agent confirmed news of his death on Friday (23 February).

“We are sad to announce the death of the actor John Savident who died on Wednesday 21st February,” an official statement read.

“He was a much-loved husband and father of two and will be sorely missed by all who knew him.”

Savident joined the Manchester-based soap in 1994, quickly charming viewers as the haughty, booming-voiced butcher, Fred.

Corrie fans were consistently entertained by Fred’s quirky turns of phrase, including his habit of dotting “I say, I say” into his sentences.

Savident remained a staple part of the programme until October 2006, when Fred died of a stroke. The actor had announced his plans to leave the soap months earlier in December 2005, citing “personal reasons”.

‘Corrie’ legend John Savident has died aged 86 (Ken McKay/Shutterstock)

Savident later revealed that he’d left the show to spend more time with his family in Hertfordshire, but would have remained on the programme in a smaller capacity if it had been possible.

“I did think [the producers] might find some way to accommodate me,” he told The People in 2008. “Quite honestly I was surprised and disappointed that they didn’t try a bit harder.

“I told them a year in advance that I was going and then they took me out for dinner and said, ‘We’re not going to insult you, John, by trying to make you stay’. And I’m sitting there thinking, ‘Please, go on, insult me’.”

Fred Savident winning ‘Best Comedy Performance’ at the 1999 British Soap Awards (PA)

In response to news of Savident’s death, fans have paid tribute to him on social media, with many naming him as one of Coronation Street’s most memorable characters.

One person wrote on X/Twitter: “Very sad to hear this, I say I say I’m very sad to hear this. Haven’t watched Corrie in over a decade now but back in the 90’s/00’s golden era of the show Fred was an iconic character.”

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Journalist Tom Hourigan shared a clip of Fred bemoaning that he’d been metaphorically “stabbed in’t back with me own meat cleaver”, calling it “one of the most distinctive characters – and deliveries – in British soap history”.

Savident was born in Guernsey in 1938 and was on the island at the time it was occupied by German forces in 1940.

He was a police officer before switching professions to acting. Before his work on Coronation Street, he originated the role of Monsieur Firmin in the original production of Phantom of the Opera on the West End in 1986.

Other television appearances included Danger Man, The Saint, Callan, Doctor Who and Dr Meredith in The Remains of the Day.

Savident is survived by his wife since 1961, Rona Hopkinson, as well as their two children and several grandchildren.

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