Page last updated at 17:15 GMT, Thursday, 12 November 2009

Funeral held for Archers veteran

Norman Painting

Family and friends of actor Norman Painting, best known for voicing Phil Archer on BBC Radio 4 drama The Archers, have attended his funeral.

The actor, who died last month aged 85, played the Ambridge farmer since the show's first trial run in 1950.

In a statement the BBC said: "The service was short, simple and private at the actor's request."

The service took place in the Warwickshire village of Warmington where Painting lived for many years.

A memorial service for Painting will be held next year.

Painting wrote more than 1,000 scripts for the show between 1966 and 1982. He also penned a best-selling book on the programme, first published in 1975.

He is featured in the Guinness Book of Records as the longest-serving actor in a single soap opera.

In recent years, though, his appearances on The Archers have been limited due to ill health.

His final episode will be broadcast 22 November, when Phil Archer character will be surrounded by his grandchildren, preparing for Christmas.

BBC director general Mark Thompson said he was "deeply saddened" when he hard of Painting's death.

Appointed OBE in the New Year's Honours for 1976, he was vice-president of the Tree Council and the only honorary Life Governor of the Royal Agricultural Society of England.

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