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Sunday, 19 May, 2002, 14:29 GMT 15:29 UK
The Dales star Charles Simon dies
Charles Simon
Charles Simon had a 79-year career in showbusiness
Actor Charles Simon, who became a national celebrity when he starred in the UK's first radio soap opera in the 1960s, has died.

Simon played Dr Dale in The Dales for six years as part of an acting career that lasted almost 80 years.

He died from pneumonia in hospital in north west London aged 93, his manager announced on Sunday.

Charles Simon
Simon had just finished filming his last film, The Final Curtain
Millions of people tuned in to hear Simon on The Dales from 1963, and he was the third actor to play the doctor.

He joined the show 15 years after it had started as Mrs Dale's Diary on the Home Service, which later became BBC Radio 4.

The Queen Mother reportedly said the programme was the only way to know what went on in a middle-class family.

Simon also starred in numerous television programmes and films.

He appeared alongside Sir Michael Gambon in Dennis Potter's The Singing Detective, and was seen on the big screen in Shadowlands and 102 Dalmatians.

It was at first not thought to be serious, but on Thursday night he died peacefully

Vincent Shaw
He worked with Peter O'Toole on his last film, The Final Curtain, which is due out later this year, and had just finished making a TV advert.

"Charles had just flown back from Milan, where he had been filming a television commercial," according to Vincent Shaw, his friend and manager for more than 50 years.

"The producers asked him to stay on for an extra week because he was the life and soul of the party, and they were enjoying his company so much."

But he was taken to hospital after developing pneumonia, Mr Shaw said.

"It was at first not thought to be serious, but on Thursday night he died peacefully in his sleep, without a struggle."

His daughters Victoria and Judith were at his bedside, Mr Shaw added.

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