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Coronation Street fans were left in floods of tears on Wednesday, as Norris Cole's death was announced on the cobbles.
Soap stalwart Norris, played by Malcolm Hebden, had attempted to contact his friends with some typical gossip – but when Ken Barlow called him back, he was shook to the core to hear a paramedic's voice on the phone instead.
RIta, Mary and Ken all rushed to the hospital to attend their dear friend, but Freida delivered the tragic news that Norris had passed shortly before their arrival – but said it was "very peaceful".
Rita echoed: "I just can't take it in", as Ken chimed in: "The fragility of life. We don't know when our numbers are going to be called."
"He went doing what he loved best – snooping and gossiping," Rita told a devastated Mary.
He had been busy sniffing around with his wide-angled camera lens to capture proof of an affair between their pals.
Norris had suffered a stroke in Soapland – but the decision actually came after actor Malcolm decided to retire from acting.
He had suffered a heart attack last year and admitted he "died" in A&E – and made the decision to retire rather than return to the cobbles, despite a brief appearance during a care home plot.
Devastated fans turned to Twitter to share their tributes to the late soap stalwart, with one penning: "After 27 years playing busybody Norris Cole, Malcolm Hebden is gonna be so much missed in #Corrie. I hope Malcolm has a very long and happy retirement."
Someone else chimed in: "RIP Norris, you will be sadly missed."
"I can't believe they killed off the legend that is Norris Cole!" another fan wailed.
While a fourth penned: "The end of an era. Sleep well Norris!"
There was even an effort to get the hashtag #RIPNorrisCole trending on Twitter.
Ken later joked in the episode that Norris would want the country to enter into a period of mourning for him for at least six months – which would be a fitting tribute to such a well-loved soap character.
Other fans thought the episode was the perfect send-off to Norris – especially as barmaid Emma asked: "Is he all right?" upon hearing the news of his death.
"Not Emma asking if Norris is all right!" someone tweeted, as another followed up: "Jenny: Norris has died. Emma: Is he alright? DEAD. Best line in years!"
"I'm just sad because I've lost one of the best friends in my life," a tear-stained Rita admitted in the Rovers Return later that evening.
Coronation Streets airs Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays on ITV.
- Coronation Street
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