Stage and TV actor Geoffrey Hutchings dies aged 71

Image caption,
Hutchings died following a short illness

Stage and screen actor Geoffrey Hutchings, most recently seen in ITV's Benidorm, has died at the age of 71.

Hutchings, who trained at Rada, saw his career stretch from Shakespearean theatre to popular TV dramas, including the BBC's Our Friends in the North.

His agent said the actor died suddenly in hospital on Thursday morning from a suspected viral infection.

Hutchings's final series, the sitcom Grandma's House, is due to be screened by BBC Two this summer.

He was due to begin filming the next series of Benidorm shortly.

TV roles

The Dorchester-born actor studied at Birmingham University, later attending Rada and became a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) in 1968.

He won an Olivier Award for best comedy performance in 1982 for his role in Poppy before moving into TV and film work.

His British films included John Cleese's Clockwise, Wish You Were Here and the adaptation of Bruce Chatwin's On The Black Hill. He later appeared in Mike Leigh's Topsy-Turvy.

Hutchings' TV appearances included roles in shows such as Brass, Holby City, Foyle's War, Midsomer Murders and a stint in EastEnders.

In 1998, he was part of the cast for the acclaimed Carry On-inspired National Theatre production Cleo, Camping, Emmanuelle And Dick, in which he played comedy actor Sid James. The play was later adapted for TV as Cor, Blimey!.

Hutching's agent Roger Charteris said: "He never stopped working. Geoffrey was a delight to work with and he was absolutely one of a kind."

Tiger Aspect Productions, which is behind the series Grandma's House, paid tribute to the actor.

A spokesman said: "We are all incredibly sad to hear of Geoffrey's passing.

"He has been a major part of Tiger Aspect's comedy in recent years, and his unique talents will be hugely missed by everyone who knew and worked with him.

"Our thoughts are with his family at this sad time."