Colin Skipp, who played Tony Archer in BBC Radio 4 soap The Archers for 47 years, has died at the age of 80.
The actor joined the drama in 1967 and played the farmer until 2013, when he retired after suffering several heart attacks and having major heart surgery.
Pat Gallimore, who played Tony’s wife Pat, paid tribute to Skipp as “a good friend and generous colleague”.
“Colin was a very fine actor who brought truth and integrity to the role of Tony,” she said.
The Archers editor Jeremy Howe said: “Colin had a wonderful voice, which made Tony singular and distinctive.
“He was absolutely Colin’s creation – a man who returned to his roots determined to succeed in farming on his own and his wife Pat’s terms. The Bridge Farm they created together was at the vanguard of progressive thinking – a small-scale but successful and profitable organic unit.”
Tom Graham, who played Tony and Pat’s son Tom from 1997-2014, remembered Skipp as “a warm, funny and talented man, a lovely friend & (pretend) dad”.
Skipp grew up in north London and won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (Rada), where he studied with Charles Collingwood, who also went on to join The Archers as Brian Aldridge.
Tony Archer was at the heart of some of the long-running programme’s most dramatic storylines, such as the moment he discovered the body of his son John after a tractor accident in 1998.
Tony married Pat in in 1974 and they decided to turn Bridge Farm organic in the 1980s, with the punishing demands becoming a regular source of complaint for Tony. The 1980s also saw Pat becoming more politically and environmentally aware – famously swapping his Daily Express subscription for The Guardian.
Actor David Troughton took over as Tony following Skipp’s retirement.