Denise Robertson, resident agony aunt for ITV’s This Morning, has died aged 83.
She revealed in February that she had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
The programme posted the news on its Twitter account, writing: “Such sad news – our friend and colleague Denise Robertson has lost her short but determined battle against cancer.”
Robertson, from Sunderland, had been with the programme since it began in 1988.
Robertson’s family said in a statement read out on Friday’s show that it was “with the deepest possible sorrow” they announced the passing of “a very great lady”.
“The world has lost an extraordinary woman,” they said.
‘Warm-hearted and wise’
This Morning presenter Ruth Langsford led the tributes on the programme, announcing the “terribly sad news” about “our beloved Denise”.
Colleague Holly Willoughby said: “Whatever she did on screen, it was the tip of the iceberg really, because she continued to help people behind the scenes.
“She was a real fighter for everybody.”
Presenter Phillip Schofield said the news was “absolutely heartbreaking”.
Former colleague Richard Madeley, who presented the show with wife Judy Finnigan from 1988 to 2001, told the BBC that Robertson “was probably the best agony aunt in the business”.
“What very few people will know, the viewers certainly won’t know this, is that when a show was over Denise would stay in the phone-in room sometimes for hours, well into the afternoon, talking to people, who hadn’t been able to get on the air or continuing to counsel people who had,” he said.
“She’d give up so much of her time and she made a difference. She was a truly, truly, wonderful, warm-hearted and wise woman.”
Paul O’Grady who appeared on This Morning with Denise as his alter ego Lily Savage in the early days of the show has paid tribute, saying he was “absolutely mad on Denise.”
He rang in to This Morning and told Eamonn Holmes and Ruth Langsford “she was a truth northern lass – she spoke her mind.”
“She was feisty, she was warm, she very genuine. I’m going to miss her wisdom and her feistiness.
“She brightened people’s lives and she certainly enhanced mine.”
He also pointed out she was a “great writer”.
Robertson wrote 17 novels and published a number of advice books.
Robertson’s This Morning colleagues continue to pay tribute on Twitter.
Soap expert Sharon Marshall tweeted: “I loved you my darling Denise. Thank you for days shrieking with laughter, the gin, the gossip and the friendship.”
Rylan Clark-Neal tweeted: “Devastated. The nicest and kindest woman in tele. Will miss her so much. She’ll always be the only woman for me.”
Finance expert Martin Lewis wrote: “No! A wonderful lady. Even behind scenes like a rottweiler helping those who got in touch – making many lives better.”
Stylist Gok Wan tweeted: “The saddest news of the beautiful Denise passing. RIP darling and I’m sorry we never got to make that beautiful coat you wanted X”
In a statement read out by This Morning presenter Ruth Langsford in mid-February, Robertson said her diagnosis had come as a surprise but she did not plan to “give up without a fight”.
She also thanked the viewers of the show who had been concerned about her health.
Her popularity on the show led to her being offered her own TV show, Dear Denise, in 2000, and she was appointed an MBE in 2006 for services to broadcasting and to charity.
The agony aunt was also a regular fixture on Channel 5’s Big Brother’s Bit On The Side.
She also had her own advice website and wrote a column for Candis magazine.
Robertson lost her first husband Alex Robertson to lung cancer in 1972, but kept his surname when she remarried.
In 2006 her stepson, John, also died of cancer, at the age of 44.
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