Tony Warren
Tony Warren devised the idea for the Weatherfield soap at the age of 24. ITV

Tony Warren, the creator of British soap opera institution Coronation Street, has died. The 79-year-old writer passed away following a short illness, a spokesperson for the ITV soap confirmed in a statement. A message on Twitter said: "It's with great sadness that Coronation Street confirms legendary creator and writer Tony Warren, MBE has passed away."

Warren came up with the concept of Corrie when he was just 24 and remained a consultant on the Manchester-based soap until his death. In 1994 he was awarded the MBE for his services to television drama.

Kym Marsh, who plays Michelle Connor in the show, led the online tributes, describing Warren as a "true legend". In a post shared with her 654,000 Twitter followers she wrote: "With such sadness today we say goodbye to the great Tony Warren. An amazing man, a true legend. We owe him so much. He will be sadly missed."

William Roache, who has played Ken Barlow since the first episode, recalled his first encounter with Warren said he has a "boyish energy" that never left him. "When I first met Tony, I couldn't quite believe he'd created and written Coronation Street, because he was no more than a young boy," he said. "I loved Tony's energy. He was the father of Coronation Street and he gave us all so much."

In a moving tribute ITV creative director for soaps John Whiston said Warren had left a lasting legacy. "Surely there can be no greater tribute than that the show he created 56 years ago is still the number one show on British TV," he said. "Tony infused Coronation Street with his own spirit, one that was at the same time dramatic and credible, exciting and grounded, funny and humane.

He added: "It is Tony's spirit that has kept the show fresh and relevant all these years and will do for years to come. All who are lucky enough to work on the show owe Tony a huge amount of gratitude. As do all the millions who tune into Coronation Street week after week."