Gwen Taylor has led the tributes to her former Duty Free on-screen husband, Keith Barron, following his death aged 83.
The prolific actor – who also starred in Dennis Potter’s The Nigel Barton Plays and 1975 Hollywood film The Land That Time Forgot – died on Tuesday after a short illness, his agent confirmed.
Barron enjoyed a “long and varied career… of which he was immensely proud”, the statement said referencing his many roles across television which included appearances in Coronation Street, Casualty, DCI Banks, Doctors, Holby City and Benidorm.
But it was 80s sitcom Duty Free where he garnered his reputation as a much-loved star.
Set in Spain, the ITV show ran for three series from 1984 until 1986 with Barron starring as gruff northerner David Pearce alongside Taylor as his wife Amy.
Taylor, who in 2014 toured with Barron in a stage version of the show, told the Press Association news of his death was “quite a blow”.
She added: “I have just heard the news my old friend and colleague has died.
“Keith was such a kind and lovely man and don’t think I’ve met anyone that would disagree. My thoughts and prayers go to his loving wife Mary and his son Jamie – who meant so much to him.”
So saddened to hear of Keith Barron’s death- I was lucky enough to work with him and my god we had some laughs! Never afraid to call a spade a spade- I adored him x— Samantha Giles (@sammeegiles) November 15, 2017
Emmerdale actress Samantha Giles also paid tribute, saying she “adored” Barron.
She tweeted: “So saddened to hear of Keith Barron’s death – I was lucky enough to work with him and my god we had some laughs! Never afraid to call a spade a spade.”
Writer and director Michael Armstrong tweeted: “So sad to hear about the death of #KeithBarron. A very special actor and a charming, warm human being. RIP, Keith.”
Children’s author Philip Ardagh, who worked with Barron in the 80s, said: “He was a generous, charming, funny and very professional man. I’ve worked with many people over the years but have never forgotten him.”
I was lucky enough to work with Keith Barron on some radio advertisements I wrote back in the 1980s. He was a generous, charming, funny and very professional man. I've worked with many people over the years but have never forgotten him. RIP— Philip Ardagh (@PhilipArdagh) November 15, 2017
Sunetra Sarker – who starred with Barron in Casualty – also paid tribute to the actor.
So sad to hear of dear friend #KeithBarron passing away. One of a kind. Guaranteed laughter. Shall never forget those days. Old school 🌈 pic.twitter.com/iXHVJBUhY1— sunetra sarker (@sarker) November 15, 2017
We've had lots of fun down the years with Keith Barron. Condolences to his family and friends. A great actor and great DC guest. RIP.— Countdown (@C4Countdown) November 15, 2017
She wrote on Twitter: “So sad to hear of dear friend #KeithBarron passing away. One of a kind. Guaranteed laughter. Shall never forget those days. Old school,” alongside a snap of the two on the set of Casualty.
Chairman of Elstree Studios Morris Bright paid tribute on Twitter, writing: “Deeply saddened at passing of the great actor Keith Barron.
“He was a good friend of the industry and of @ElstreeStudios. We knew he had been unwell. Last met him at Elstree in 2009.
“A true gentleman.”
The actor is survived by his wife of 58 years Mary and his son, James, also an actor.
The TV stalwart was born in South Yorkshire in 1934 and, after national service in the RAF, joined an amateur dramatics group also attended by Brian Blessed.
He later moved to London, where he performed in the series of Potter plays and later transferred the role to the small screen for Stand Up Nigel Barton, and Vote, Vote, Vote For Nigel Barton in the mid-60s.