Tony Warren has died, following a short, unspecified illness. The "Coronation Street" creator and writer was 79.

British television network ITV said the Manchester native "passed away peacefully last night surrounded by his loving friends."

"Amid the many and much deserved tributes to Tony Warren, surely there can be no greater tribute than that the show he created 56 years ago is still the No. 1 show on British TV," John Whiston, creative director of soaps for ITV Studios, said in a statement Wednesday.

"Tony infused 'Coronation Street' with his own spirit, one that was at the same time dramatic and credible, exciting and grounded, funny and humane. 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."

Born Anthony McVay Simpson, Warren was a successful child star, who trained at the Elliott Clarke Theatre School in Liverpool and became a regular on BBC Radio's "Children's Hour."

He also acted in many radio plays and performed with the actors who were later to become household names for "Coronation Street," most notably Violet Carson and Doris Speed.

"Coronation Street" actress Helen Worth, who worked with Warren for 42 years, called Warren "a genius of our time, the dearest, funniest and most inspirational man of his generation."

"He brought real life into our homes for us all to relate to and enjoy. He will, of course, live on forever through 'Coronation Street.'"