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Last Updated: Saturday, 12 February, 2005, 16:19 GMT
Emmerdale star Stan Richards dies
Stan Richards in 2002
Stan Richards: Enjoyed "every single minute" of his time on Emmerdale
Actor Stan Richards, who played ex-gamekeeper Seth Armstrong in ITV soap Emmerdale, has died aged 74.

Richards passed away in his sleep on Friday night at home in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, said the show's producers.

The actor, who joined Emmerdale 27 years ago and made his last appearance in December, was the longest serving soap actor outside Coronation Street.

He had suffered from lung problems, including emphysema, for some time and had been in and out of hospital.

In 2003 he spent three months in hospital recovering from a collapsed lung.

In 1998 he had to take a rest from the series after breaking a thigh bone.

The actor was with members of his family when he died.

Richards' last appearance was on Christmas Eve 2004 after a 15-month absence, sending a Christmas message from Australia to his partner Betty Eagleton, played by Paula Tilbrook.

Emmerdale line producer Tim Fee said: "This is a tragic loss and we are all deeply saddened. Stan will be greatly missed by everyone who has worked with him on Emmerdale during the past 27 years."

The actor was born and brought up in Barnsley. He started out as a pianist and stand-up comedian, then appeared briefly in Coronation Street before joining Emmerdale in 1978 with a plotline lasting a few weeks.

In 2003, he celebrated 25 years on the show. At the time he said: "I have enjoyed every single minute of it. It's been 25 years of fun."

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