Page last updated at 15:57 GMT, Wednesday, 21 May 2008 16:57 UK

Soap's first barmaid dies at 87

Iona Banks
Gwladys Lake was described as an "iconic" character

An actress who was in the original cast of Welsh language soap Pobol y Cwm has died in hospital, aged 87.

Iona Banks, from Trelogan, Flintshire, was Gwladys Lake, the first barmaid in the series made by BBC Wales for S4C.

Pobol y Cwm - or People of the Valley - has been on air since October 1974, making it the longest running BBC soap.

Ms Banks was a founder member of Cwmni Theatr Cymru and appeared in several Willy Russell plays, as well as the 1970s TV series Angels.

She suffered a stroke in the 1990s and had throat cancer later on, but died on Tuesday of an unrelated illness.

Pobol y Cwm executive producer Bethan Jones said the actress played Gwladys Lake with "immense talent".

She added: "Gwladys Lake is a very memorable character, and was prominent in the series for many years.

"She was an iconic character in the Deri Arms."



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