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Star Of 'Love Thy Neighbour' Jack Smethurst Has Died Aged 89

Love Thy Neighbour star Jack Smethurst has died peacefully at home aged 89, his family has confirmed.

Smethurst played the bigoted factory worker Eddie Booth in the 1970s ITV sitcom.

Confirming the news of his death on Twitter, his son Adam posted a series of photographs from the actor's life and career.

"Today we said farewell to our dear Dad," he wrote. "He was much loved and brought joy to many."

"Our entire family give thanks to a long and fruitful life," he added.

Comedian Tommy Cannon paid tribute on Twitter, recalling how he and Smethurst enjoyed their first panto season working together.

Actor John Altman, who played Nick Cotton from EastEnders, wrote: "Saddened to hear that my old friend Jack Smethurst has passed away. He was great fun to work with."

Actor and singer Robin Askwith described Smethurst a "a thoughtful and excellent actor".

Born in Manchester in 1932, Smethurst was evacuated to Blackpool after the destruction of the family home in the Blitz during World War Two.

After undergoing his national service with the RAF, Smethurst went to the London Academy of Dramatic Arts.

In 1959 he joined the English Stage Company at the Royal Court Theatre in John Arden's anti-war play Serjeant Musgrave's Dance, alongside the likes of Dudley Moore.

He made his film debut in the 1958 comedy 'Carry On Sergeant', then appeared in 1960s productions of the kitchen sink dramas, 'A Kind Of Loving', alongside Alan Bates, and 'Saturday Night And Sunday Morning', opposite Albert Finney.

But it was in 1972 that he landed his best-known role playing Booth, a white socialist who was shocked when a black couple moved in next door.

His on-screen wife Joan, portrayed by Kate Williams, had a more welcoming attitude.

The show, which brought controversy at the time due to its handling of issues around racism, class and prejudice, ran for eight series until 1976.

Smethurst also starred in a film adaptation of Love Thy Neighbour, released in 1973.

Following a brief cameo in the Oscar-winning film Chariots of Fire, Smethurst appeared as binman Johnny Webb in Coronation Street.

From the late 1980s, he returned to his theatre roots in productions such as An Inspector Calls, The Taming of The Shrew, with Toyah Willcox, and A View From The Bridge, as well as Hobson's Choice.

His final television role was in Casualty in the mid to late noughties.

In 2015, he was honoured with a lifetime achievement award by The Heritage Foundation, for outstanding contribution to the arts and entertainment.

He is survived by his wife Julie, four children, 11 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

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