Page last updated at 17:38 GMT, Saturday, 25 July 2009 18:38 UK

Actor Harry Towb dies of cancer

Harry Towb in EastEnders
Harry Towb died at his home in London

Actor Harry Towb has died, his family has confirmed. He was 83.

Mr Towb, born in Larne, County Antrim, passed away peacefully in his London home on Friday after battling cancer for a short time.

He grew up in Belfast and worked with different theatrical groups before moving to England in the 1950s.

As recently as December he appeared in the BBC's EastEnders programme as David, Janine Butcher's elderly lover.

He is survived by his wife, actress Diana Hoddinott, children Emily, Daniel and Joshua, and three granddaughters.

Joshua said his father was a great family man who loved his work.

"He loved his family very much," he said.

"But he never liked not to be working.

 Harry Towb as Osgood and Terry Scully as Fewsham
Harry Towb as Osgood and Terry Scully as Fewsham in Dr Who and the 'Seeds of Death' in 1969

"He worked all the way through his illness as long as he could, right up until a few months ago."

He recently played Tiresias in Antigone at the Waterfront Hall, Belfast.

The play's director, Owen McCafferty, paid tribute to Mr Towb.

"He was one of the most inspirational actors I have ever worked with, truly, truly professional," he said.

"On a personal level he was a beautiful man, delightful, one of those people who have grace and dignity."

One of the actor's biggest stage roles was in the National Theatre production of Brighton Beach Memoirs.

He also performed in Little Shop of Horrors, Barmitzvah Boy, Death of a Salesman and The Mandate.

With the Royal Shakespeare Company Mr Towb helped bring Sherlock Holmes and Travesties to Broadway.

At Dublin's Abbey Theatre his plays included Philadelphia Here I Come, The Rivals and The Importance Of Being Earnest.

Elsewhere Mr Towb's numerous television credits include Z Cars, The Avengers, Home James, Moll Flanders, Heartbeat, Casualty, and The Bill.

He also took roles in the films The 39 Steps, Patton, Digby the Biggest Dog in the World, Carry On at Your Convenience, and The Most Fertile Man In Ireland.

In 1991 he starred with Warren Mitchell in the BBC Northern Ireland comedy So You Think You've Got Troubles.

In it he played George Nathan who was trying to re-populate the Jewish community of Belfast.

He brought over the Mitchell character, Ivan Fox, as a non-practising London Jew, who is confronted with the sectarian attitudes of the city.

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