EastEnders creator Tony Holland has died at the age of 67, the BBC said.

The writer and scriptwriter co-created the BBC1 soap with the late Julia Smith after the pair met on the set of Z Cars in 1971.

Holland was also responsible for the BBC dramas Angels, District Nurse and Eldorado.

As well as coming up with half of the original characters in EastEnders – modelling them on his own family – Holland was also involved in the casting.

Despite the fact she was originally thought to be too glamorous for the soap, he approached Are You Being Served? actress Wendy Richard to play Pauline Fowler.

But Richard told Holland: “I’m sick of glamour. I want to play my age.”

In 2002, Holland won a special achievement award at the British Soap Awards.

EastEnders, set in Walford, was first broadcast in 1985 and remains BBC1’s biggest-rating weekly show to this day.

Holland died in hospital after being unwell for some time, a BBC spokesman said.

Alan Yentob, BBC creative director, led the tributes, saying: “Tony was intimately involved in every aspect of the show for the first four years, including the classic blockbuster Christmas episode featuring Dirty Den and Angie in 1986.

“The concept of the drama serial centred on a large extended family was their brainchild and much of the detail such as the creation of the Beale family and the focus on the Queen Vic pub came from Tony.”