This year has seen the sad loss of many a big name from the worlds of music, acting and entertaining.
Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts, Peaky Blinders star Helen McCrory, Girls Aloud singer Sarah Harding and comedian Sean Lock were amongst the celebrities we said goodbye to in 2021.
Read more: The best TV shows of 2021
Here are some of the biggest stars who passed away over the last 12 months.
Date: 3 January
Cause of death: Blood infection
Marsden was the frontman and co-founder of Liverpool band Gerry & the Pacemakers. As the second act to sign with the Beatles' manager, Brian Epstein, Gerry & the Pacemakers scored big hits with Ferry Cross the Mersey, I Like It, and a cover of Rodgers & Hammerstein's You'll Never Walk Alone (which became the anthem of Liverpool Football Club). After the band broke up in 1967, Marsden became a British television personality and West End theatre actor.
Date: 16 January
Cause of death: COVID-19 complications
The famed music producer, who was imprisoned since 2009 for the murder of Lana Clarkson, died at a California hospital. Known for his “Wall of Sound,” in his younger years he helped create hits for the Ronettes, the Righteous Brothers and the Beatles among others. He long had personal issues, with wife Ronnie Spector (of the Ronettes) claiming abuse. In 2003, after a night of drinking, he shot and killed Clarkson at his home. He was sentenced to 19 years to life in prison, and was serving time at a prison hospital due to long-term medical issues. Spector’s daughter said he tested positive for COVID in December 2020 and died several weeks after being intubated.
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Date: 23 January
Cause of death: Sepsis
The radio and TV star hosted CNN's Larry King Live from 1985 to 2010. King got celebrities and world leaders talking, which he credited to his “dumb” questions. King, who was married eight times to seven women, had health issues throughout his life, including suffering a stroke in 2019. He was hospitalised in December 2020 with COVID and developed sepsis.
Date: 5 February
Cause of death: Head injury following a fall
Nearly 50 years after cementing his screen icon status as Captain Von Trapp in 1965's The Sound of Music — a film experience for which he later voiced contempt — the Canadian star at last took home his first Oscar, for Best Supporting Actor, aged 82 as a father who comes out late in life in 2011's Beginners. He also starred in The Insider, Inside Man, The Last Station, Knives Out and All the Money in the World; the latter resulted in another Oscar nod after he was hastily cast to replace Kevin Spacey amid the actor's #MeToo scandal. Plummer suffered a fall, striking his head and dying just a couple of weeks later, according to widow Elaine Taylor.
Date: 28 February
Cause of death: Undisclosed illness
Coronation Street legend Briggs had played Mike Baldwin in the soap for 30 years, with many of his storylines involving Deidre (the late Anne Kirkbride) and Ken Barlow (William Roache). During his career, he won a British Soap Award for lifetime achievement and an MBE.
Read more: The best soap moments of 2021
Date: 24 March
Cause of death: Undisclosed
Best known as Bluth family matriarch Lucille on TV sitcom Arrested Development, Walter won an Emmy in 1975 (for playing the title character in limited series Amy Prentiss) and was nominated for another four: for The Streets of San Francisco, Trapper John, M.D., animated series Archer and Arrested Development, the series she starred in during both of its runs, from 2003 to 2006 and again between 2013 and 2019.
Date: 5 April
Cause of death: Brain tumour
Best known in recent years for playing dad Martin in sitcom Friday Night Dinner, the actor also had featuring roles in acclaimed series Chernobyl and with Daniel Craig in Bond film Quantum of Solace. Other notable appearances included Vera, The Trial of Christine Keeler, and the stage adaptation of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.
Date: 9 April
Cause of death: Anorexia
Grahame became known as a reality TV star after appearing in the 2006 series of Big Brother, where she kept viewers entertained with her outraged "who is she?" catchphrase. She went on to appear in a number of other reality shows, including Ultimate Big Brother. Many of her celebrity friends paid tribute to her after she passed away from anorexia which she had been battling for much of her life.
Date: 16 April
Cause of death: Breast cancer
McCrory was one of the biggest stars of Peaky Blinders, where she played Aunt Polly, with the final season still in production at the time of her death. She was also well known for her role as Narcissa Malfoy in the Harry Potter films and in 2017 was awarded an OBE. McCrory was married to Damian Lewis, who she shared two children with, and together the couple spent the early days of the pandemic campaigning to feed health care workers while keeping her own diagnosis private.
Date: 20 April
Cause of death: Natural causes
Scottish pop singer McKeown was best known as the frontman of the Bay City Rollers, who during the height of their "Rollermania" teen idol era were heralded as the next Beatles. McKeown sang on the band's biggest hits, including Remember (Sha-La-La-La), Shang-a-Lang, Summerlove Sensation, Give a Little Love and All of Me Loves All of You, and a cover of the Four Seasons' Bye, Bye, Baby, all of which cracked the top 10. Their albums Rollin' and Once Upon a Star both went to No. 1, and the Rollers eventually went on to sell 120 million records worldwide. After leaving the group in 1978, McKeown released nine solo albums. In 2015, he reunited with fellow Rollers Stuart Woo and Alan Longmuir for a Bay City Rollers nostalgia tour.
Read more: The most controversial TV moments of 2021
Date: 12 August
Cause of death: Undisclosed
The beloved actor was best known for playing landlady Mrs Hudson in TV series Sherlock, and Rita Rawlins in sitcoms Till Death Do Us Part and In Sickness and In Health. She was also Aunt Sally in Worzel Gummidge, and Miss Bat in The Worst Witch. Stubbs was said to have been ill for a few months before her death and passed away with her family by her side.
Date: 16 August
Cause of death: Lung cancer
As well as his sell-out stand up shows, the comedian was known for his regular appearances on 8 Out of 10 Cats, 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown, and QI. Many of his fellow comedians paid tribute to him, with close friend Bill Bailey sharing how he had sat by Lock's bedside and sung his favourite songs to him in his final days.
Date: 24 August
Cause of death: Undisclosed
Rolling Stones drummer Watts was married to wife Shirley for nearly 57 years. Though he eventually battled substance abuse in the 1980s — something he chalked up to a midlife crisis — Watts was more likely to sketch his hotel room than trash it; he reportedly had more than a dozen journals filled with illustrations of his lodgings. Despite a previous battle with throat cancer, Watts had kept up with the Stones' notoriously exhaustive tour schedule until this year. In August, the band announced that he'd be sitting out the remaining No Filter shows due to a heart procedure; by the month's end, he had died, though no exact cause of death has been publicly revealed.
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Date: 5 September
Cause of death: Breast cancer
Harding died from breast cancer just a year after her August 2020 diagnosis, saying in March that she had been told it was terminal. The singer was known for her career with Girls Aloud after they formed on and won talent show Pop Stars: The Rivals. She also branched out into acting in the St Trinian's films and Coronation Street, and published her autobiography as well as releasing new solo music in the months before her death.
Michael K. Williams
Date: 6 September
Cause of death: Accidental overdose
Williams created unforgettable characters on The Wire (Omar Little) and Boardwalk Empire (Chalky White) — the former getting high praise from then-President Barack Obama. Overall, the actor received five Emmy nominations for his work, including Lovecraft Country and the miniseries When They See Us. Williams, who was open about his addiction struggle, died at his Brooklyn home of acute intoxication by a mixture of heroin, cocaine and fentanyl.
Date: 19 September
Cause of death: Cancer
Famed for his role as Boycie in Only Fools and Horses, Challis also reprised his character for more recent spin-off The Green Green Grass and played Monty Staines in sitcom Benidorm. His Only Fools and Horses co-stars Sir David Jason and Sue Holderness were amongst the many celebrity friends who paid tribute to him.
Read more: The TV shows that ended in 2021
Date: 21 September
Cause of death: Pancreatic cancer
While filming the Sex and the City spinoff, And Just Like That..., the beloved actor who played Stanford Blatch, lost his private battle with cancer. In addition to being Carrie Bradshaw's male bestie, he appeared on White Collar and Hawaii Five-0 and in movies including Being John Malkovich and Groundhog Day.
James Michael Tyler
Date: 24 October
Cause of death: Prostate cancer
Best known for his role as Central Perk manager Gunther on Friends, Tyler revealed in June he had been quietly battling prostate cancer since 2018. It wasn't caught early and spread to his bones. Tumours on his spine left him unable to walk, but he hid it when appearing virtually on the HBO Max Friends reunion in May because, "I didn't want to be like, 'Oh, and Gunther has cancer,'" he said. He passed away peacefully at his LA home.
Date: 26 November
Cause of Death: Cardiovascular disease
The celebrated composer and lyricist was responsible for some of the biggest theatre successes of our lifetimes, including A Little Night Music, for which he penned Grammy-winning tune Send in the Clowns; A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum; Sweeney Todd; Into the Woods and Company. He won a long list of accolades, including an Oscar for the Madonna song Sooner or Later (I Always Get My Man) in Dick Tracy; a Pulitzer Prize; and eight Tony Awards. (The one he received in 2008 was for lifetime achievement.)
Watch: Helen McCrory's friends learned of illness days before her death