Irish actor TP McKenna dies, aged 81

Irish actor TP McKenna has died at the age of 81.

Irish actor TP McKenna has died at the age of 81.

The silver-haired star clocked up appearances in dozens of long-running shows including 'The Avengers', 'The Sweeney', 'Doctor Who' and 'Minder'.

McKenna – born Thomas Patrick, but always known by his initials – died in his sleep on Sunday.

Irish Culture Minister Mary Hanafin led tributes today to the celebrated star, who also had a part in films such as 'Ulysses', 'Straw Dogs', and 'A Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man'.

She said she was saddened to learn of the actor’s death and offered her sympathies to his family, friends and colleagues.

“TP McKenna’s acting career spanned decades and his body of work on stage and screen is considerable,” said Ms Hanafin.

Born in Mullagh, Co Cavan, Mr McKenna began his career at the Abbey Theatre in 1954 and over the next eight years undertook more than 70 different roles.

He had roles in series including 'Blake’s 7', 'Ballykissangel' and 'The Onedin Line'.

Mr McKenna died in his sleep at the Royal Free Hospital, London, after a long period of illness.

He is survived by his sons Rafe, Killian, Breffni and Stephen and his daughter Sally.

A note on a website dedicated to his life and career said: “As an actor he was unique, as a friend and colleague he was exceptional, as a father he was irreplaceable.”

Ms Hanafin said: “Starting his professional acting career on the stage in Dublin with early performances in the Abbey Theatre, he moved to the large and small screen with great ease, taking on many memorable roles in iconic films and TV programmes.

“TP was one of a great generation of Irish actors whose talents on the screen and stage both at home and abroad gave us all great pride in his accomplishments.

“His ability to take ownership of the characters he portrayed in a variety of genre is a credit to the breadth of his skill as an actor.”

Mr McKenna also worked with the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Royal National Theatre Company and directed productions of 'The Playboy Of The Western World' and 'Shadow Of A Gunman'.

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