LONDON -- Actor Bill Tarmey, who for 30 years played loveable rogue Jack Duckworth on the British soap opera Coronation Street, died Friday at the age of 71, the show's producers said.
Tarmey died on the Spanish island of Tenerife. He had been in poor health for many years with heart problems and other ailments.
"I could make it easier on myself. I could give up smoking. I could go and sit in a rocking chair," Tarmey once said. "But that wouldn't be me. That would kill me sooner than the old ticker would."
Work-shy, pigeon-fancying Jack and his tart-tongued wife Vera, played by Liz Dawn, were among the longest-running characters on the soap, which is set in a working-class town in northwest England. Their rocky but enduring relationship was at the emotional heart of the fictional community of Weatherfield.
Tarmey was a former labourer and nightclub singer who first appeared on Coronation Street in 1977 as an extra. He was made a regular two years later and stayed until 2010. Some 11 million people watched his final episode, in which Jack died peacefully in his armchair.
Tarmey is survived by his wife, a son and a daughter.
-- The Associated Press