Steve Halliwell, best known for playing Zak Dingle in Emmerdale for almost 30 years, has died at the age of 77.
The actor joined the Dales as the patriarch of the Dingle clan in 1994, a role he continued in until his death - although in recent months the character has been absent from the village, instead staying with his granddaughter Debbie in Scotland.
A statement from Halliwell's family read: "He went to sleep, peacefully with his loved ones around him. He was making us laugh to the end, the most amazing father and grandfather you could ever wish for, family was everything to him.
"We would like to thank the wonderful staff at St James Hospital and the Wheatfield Hospice for their love and kindness in his final days. He didn't want sadness, just to rejoice in a life well lived."
John Whiston, ITV's MD of continuing drama, said: "Steve Halliwell was one of those rare human beings who was as wonderful off screen as on.
"To millions of Emmerdale viewers he was the brawny but crafty Dingle patriarch who led the clan with a strong fist and a warm heart.
"To everyone who worked on Emmerdale he was a much loved friend and colleague, the undoubted father of the show, but also its fun mischievous uncle. We will miss him enormously."
Halliwell's last scene as Zak was broadcast in June.
Media Mole Limited-Time Offer: Get Sky Cinema, Sky Stream & Netflix for just £27 a month + £0 upfront fee for 18 months!
Prices may change during this period. Ends 21st March 2024