FORMER film critic Barry Norman has paid tribute to his wife, who has died at the age of 77.

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Diana Norman, a former journalists and award-winning crime writer, died at the couple’s home in Datchworth on Thursday.

This week, the former BBC Film presenter paid a moving tribute to his late wife.

“Her death is going to come as a hell of a shock,” Mr Norman said.

“She had a band of very devoted fans who followed her work, and were always getting in touch asking when her next book was coming out.

“She was the best friend I ever had, but she should also be remembered as a fine historical crime novelist.”

Barry and Diana met on Fleet Street in the 1950s, when Barry worked at The Daily Sketch and Diana worked at The Daily Herald (later rebranded as The Sun).

“At the time she was the youngest female reporter on Fleet Street, which was something she was always very proud of,” Mr Norman said.

The pair married and moved to Hertfordshire where they had two daughters, Samantha and Emma.

Diana began writing historical fiction, under both her married name and a nom de plume, Ariana Franklin.

In 2007, she won the Crime Writers’ Association (CWA) Ellis Peters Historical Award for Mistress of the Art of Death, as Ariana Franklin.

Just last year, the CWA awarded her the Dagger in the Library – which recognises an author’s entire body of work, not just an individual title.

She had just completed her latest book at the time of her death, Mr Norman said.

The family is hoping to publish it posthumously.

Mrs Norman is survived by her husband and her two daughters, and three grandsons, Bertie, 17, Harry, 15, and 13-year-old Charlie.

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