Tributes paid to Tony Britton, 95, whose career began in Weston

Pageants still take place around the world, but we don't get them like this around Weston-super-Mare

Pageants still take place around the world, but we don't get them like this around Weston-super-Mare these days. Actor Tony Britton is pictured here, with the eight finalists in the Modern Venus contest. - Credit: Archant

Actor Tony Britton has died at the age of 95.

The director and father to television presenter Fern Britton began his long career in Weston and at theatres in the West Country.

Fern announced the news on Twitter on Sunday, saying: "Our father, Tony Britton, died early this morning. Great actor, director and charmer.

"May flights of angels sing thee to thy rest."

Tributes have been paid by actors who labelled him as 'one of life's gentlemen'.

Speaking to the BBC's Desert Island Discs in 1973, Britton said he had wanted to be an actor since he was a child.

In the Second World War he served in the Army and worked in an aircraft factory.

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Britton's theatrical career began when he joined an amateur dramatics group in Weston, before turning professional, appearing on stage at the Old Vic and with the Royal Shakespeare Company.

And in 1966 he appeared in the Mercury, posing with the eight finalists of the Modern Venus contest.

Britton, who was born in Birmingham, shares two children, Fern and scriptwriter Cherry Britton, with his first wife Ruth Hawkins.

His second wife was Danish sculptor Eva Castle Britton, with whom he shares a son, Jasper Britton.

Mr Britton's representatives told the PA news agency the actor died peacefully in his sleep.

He was best known for starring alongside Nigel Havers and Dinah Sheridan in the BBC sitcom Don't Wait Up between 1983 to 1990.

He also appeared in acclaimed British films such as Operation Amsterdam, Sunday Bloody Sunday and The Day Of The Jackal.

Downton Abbey actor Peter Egan said on Twitter: "Very sad to see the passing of the legend Tony Britton.

"A wonderful actor and light comedian. Condolences to his family. A lovely man too."

John Challis, best known as acerbic car salesman Boycie in Only Fools And Horses, hailed Britton as 'one of life's gentlemen'.

Actor and comedian Sanjeev Bhaskar said: "Profound condolences Fern and gratitude for the joy and entertainment your dad brought to me and millions of others.

"Sending love and strength."