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Last Updated: Saturday, 19 January 2008, 10:34 GMT
Vera's Corrie exit seen by 12.5m
Coronation Street
Vera and Jack had just arranged to retire to Blackpool

Veteran Coronation Street character Vera Duckworth has bowed out of the ITV soap opera, with her exit watched by an estimated 12.5 million people.

One of the best-loved characters in the show, Vera died in an armchair as her husband Jack was in the Rovers Return.

Actress Liz Dawn, 68, who played Vera since 1971, is retiring because she suffers from chronic lung disease.

Some 12.5 million viewers watched between 1945-2000 GMT, according to unofficial overnight figures.

Three different death scenes had been written, with the final end filmed under tight security.

'Wonderful woman'

Dawn said: "I have had 33 marvellous years in Coronation Street and will miss everyone very much.

"It was very emotional filming Vera's death scenes but I do think it was the right decision for the character."

Vera Duckworth and Ivy Tilsley in 1988
Vera's best friend was Ivy Tilsley
Actor Bill Tarmey, who has played her husband Jack for almost 30 years, called Dawn a "wonderful woman".

"We have never had a cross word. She only left a few weeks ago but I already miss walking on set and seeing her there and I miss working with her."

Together, the pair became one of the most enduring soap opera partnerships, which ended with Jack tearfully watching funeral directors taking away Vera's body.

Vera's early years in Coronation Street revolved around work at the factory with friends including Ivy Tilsley.

While her marriage to Jack was often stormy, her only son Terry caused her no end of heartache, culminating in his sale of her grandson Tommy.

Her high point came when the Duckworths temporarily took charge of the Rovers pub.

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