Ricky Tomlinson
Ricky Tomlinson has paid tribute to Royle Family co-star Caroline AherneWikipedia / Andrew Hurley

Following the death of Caroline Aherne, her Royle Family co-star Rick Tomlinson paid a heartbreaking tribute to his friend and on-screen daughter by reliving a special moment between the two. The 76-year-old actor, who played Jim Royle in the hit comedy, relived the nation's iconic scene on Christmas Day 1999, when Aherne, who played Denise Royale, went into labor and cried with only dad Jim to comfort her.

After revealing that the tears they both shed that day were real, Tomlinson said to Mirror: "Without a shadow of a doubt it is the one that most sticks in my mind. I think it was so special to her ­because she didn't have children. And it was so special to me because my own little girl, my Kate, was born on Christmas Day. And that's why the tears were real.

"The cameraman who shot that scene was the son of a former Corrie star called Stan Ogden and at the end he was crying and said, 'That's it. We don't need another take.' It just stands out in my mind."

The actor choked back tears as he tried to find the words to describe his love for the 52-year-old actress.

"She was one of the most generous people I have ever worked with," he said. "She was absolutely wonderful and amazing to work for. Kind, funny, witty. A true professional."

Tomlinson said that despite a battle with alcoholism and reoccurring cancer, she "never once complained".

The award-winning actress and comedian revealed that she had been diagnosed with lung cancer two years ago, having previously beaten bladder and eye cancer.

But Ricky revealed: "She never talked about her health, ever. I can never remember her complaining.

"She must have gone through a lot but I never saw her looking unwell. She never flagged in work and the atmosphere when she was writing and acting was brilliant."

Aherne's character in The Royle Family was her most famous TV creation. The long-running Manchester-based sitcom was what brought her and Tomlinson together. The series ran from 1998-2000, with specials airing from 2006 to 2012.

<iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/kdeByu8RIMY" frameborder="0" width="640" height="360">