Coronation Street favourite Vera Duckworth is to be killed off in a "tear-jerking" plotline to be screened early next year, ITV has confirmed.

The decision will see actress Liz Dawn, who plays the much-loved character, leave the soap after 33 years.

Dawn, 68, was diagnosed with lung disease emphysema five years ago and previously revealed that her condition had left her unable to walk across the Corrie set.

ITV said the decision to kill off the character of Vera had been taken after long consultation between Dawn and the soap's producers.

It is said they concluded it would be better to have a "dramatic finale", rather than compromise the characters of Vera and her on-screen husband Jack by having Dawn come back for occasional guest appearances in the future.

Corrie producer Steve Frost, who said Vera's exit from the soap would be "heartbreaking", described Dawn's contribution to the show as "quite remarkable".

"She has played Vera, one of the most-loved characters on British television, for 33 years and she will be missed enormously, by everyone who works with her on the show and by millions and millions of viewers," he said.

Veteran Corrie star Dawn added: "It is going to be very emotional filming Vera's death scenes but I do think it is the right decision for the character.

The actress stressed that Corrie's producers had been "very respectful" about how she would feel about her character dying and said she had talked about the matter "at length" with them before a final decision was made about Vera's fate.

However fans of the soap will have to wait to find out exactly how Vera meets her end, with the character's final scenes set to be filmed in top secret.

30/10/2007 06:53:41