Shirley was best known for her role of ‘Edna Birch’ in Emmerdale, which she had played for last 15 years. The RADA trained actress had a varied career on stage and screen, appearing in many West End and leading TV productions. On television she played leading roles in Common As Muck, Civvies, Making Out, Keeping Up Appearances, Pat & Margaret and Hope & Glory and in film played opposite John Hurt in 1984 and with Julie Walters in Personal Services. Her stage work included Not Now Darling at The Strand, Toad Of Toad Hall at The Duke of York’s and Cavalcade at Chichester Festival Theatre.
John Whiston, MD of Continuing Drama and head of itv in the North has said: “The family here at Emmerdale are deeply saddened by Shirley’s passing, it is hard to imagine Emmerdale without her. We offer our condolences to Shirley’s family and share our feeling of loss with the millions of viewers who will miss Edna enormously.
Shirley passed away peacefully yesterday morning at home with her daughter Helena by her side after a short battle with cancer.