End of a TV era as Keith Barron dies

CO-STARS of seasoned actor Keith Barron have paid tribute to the television stalwart following his death, from a short illness, at the age of 83.

Gwen Taylor, who starred as Barron’s on-screen wife in Duty Free, was among those to express their sadness.

“I have just heard that my old friend and colleague has died,” she said. “It’s quite a blow. Keith was such a kind, lovely man, and I 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.”

A statement from Barron’s agent said the star enjoyed a “long and varied career”, and that he was survived by his wife of 58 years, and his actor son.

The veteran, from Mexborough, in South Yorkshire, was a regular TV fixture in Britain, starring in several popular shows, including Coronation Street.

Keith was born in South Yorkshire in 1934, and, after national service in the RAF, he joined an amateur dramatics group, which was also attracted for Brian Blessed.

His first major role came the 1960s, as easy-going Detective Sergeant Swift in The Odd Man,.

He became a household name in Britain soon after, starring as Nigel Barton in the 1965 plays Stand Up, Nigel Barton and Vote, Vote, Vote for Nigel Barton.

He went on to make sporadic appearances in many top shows of the time, such as The New Avengers and The Professionals.

But his most memorable role came as a leading man in the 1980s sitcom Duty Free, in which he starred as Yorkshireman David Pearce. It was set in Spain and ran for three series, from 1984 until 1986.

More recently, Barron returned to screens in ITV’s DCI Banks, as well as having roles in Holby City, Doctors and Heartbeat.

Former Casualty actress Sunetra Sarker also paid tribute to her former co-star, writing on Twitter: “So sad to hear of dear friend Keith Barron passing away. One of a kind. Guaranteed laughter. Shall never forget those days. Old school.”

Keith could well be considered to have been one of the hardest-working people in TV. He was rarely out of work, which, he confessed, was a bit “masochistic”.

He said in 2003: “If I’m out of work, I’m terrible. I’m no good to anyone. If I go out, I’m all the time wondering whether the phone’s rung while I’ve been out.

“And if I sit in, waiting for it to ring, I’m like a bear with a sore head, wondering why it hasn’t. You take nothing for granted.

“And the best thing about it, is being offered another job. It keeps the whole thing alive.”

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