Born in London but raised in Wythenshawe near Manchester, Aherne's first brush with the BBC was as a secretary, after studying drama at Liverpool Polytechnic.
At the same time she began to gain success as a stand-up character comedian and by 1990 was gaining regular TV exposure on BBC One's Paramount City, performing as bizarre nun Sister Mary Immaculate.
In 1994 she sprang to fame with two massive television successes, first as part of the performing team in BBC TWO's hit character sketch series The Fast Show, before being given the opportunity to cut loose with her strongest character yet.
The Mrs Merton Show gave Aherne a platform to interview a range of celebrities using her persona as a kindly pensioner to catch them off-guard with unexpectedly cutting questions: most famously asking Debbie McGee "What first attracted you to the millionaire Paul Daniels?"
Impressively, Aherne topped this in 1998 by co-writing and co-starring in smash hit sitcom The Royle Family.
Its realistic tone towards family life was a breath of fresh air and, as with Mrs Merton, the show's enormous popularity saw it move from BBC TWO to BBC One.
Owing to a turbulent personal life, Aherne has since retreated from the limelight, although she did write another sitcom, (Dossa and Joe) which was lauded by critics but not a ratings winner.
More recently, in 2006 she returned to her greatest success by writing a one-off special of The Royle Family, delighting fans and attracting 7.8 million viewers.
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