Duty Free actor has passed away

Former Duty Free star Keith Barron has died aged 83, his agent has said.

The actor and comic – who also starred in Dennis Potter’s The Nigel Barton Plays and 1975 Hollywood film The Land That Time Forgot – died after a short illness.

Keith enjoyed a “long and varied career” the statement said, adding the actor is survived by his wife of 58 years and his son, Jamie, also an actor.

The TV stalwart was born in South Yorkshire in 1934 and, after national service in the RAF, joined an amateur dramatics group also attended by Brian Blessed.

He later moved to London, where he performed in the series of Potter plays and later transferred the role to the small screen for Stand Up Nigel Barton, and Vote, Vote, Vote For Nigel Barton in the mid-Sixties.

But it was Duty Free where he garnered his reputation as a much-loved star. It ran on ITV from 1984-86 and was one of the most popular comedies of the era pulling in over 12 million viewers. It saw gruff northener David Pearce (Keith) using his redundancy money to go on holiday to Spain with his wife Amy (Gwen Taylor). Once in Spain, the pair become friends with another couple, Robert (Neil Stacy) and Linda (Joanna Van Gyseghem), with David and Linda attempting to have an affair. The show even enjoyed its own Christmas special.

Keith and Gwen later reunited in a 2015 episode of Doctors, where they again played a couple, plus they also joined forces on Pointless and even a stage version of Duty Free, called Last of the Duty Free.

One of Keith’s last roles was playing the dad of Alan Banks in ITV detective drama DCI Banks, which starred Stephen Tompkinson. Keith was also seen in Coronation Street, Where the Heart Is and Benidorm.

Chairman of Elstree Studios Morris Bright paid tribute to the actor.

He said in a statement on Twitter: “Deeply saddened at passing of the great actor Keith Barron.

“He was a good friend of the industry and of @ElstreeStudios. We knew he had been unwell. Last met him at Elstree in 2009.

“A true gentleman.”

Main pic credit: ITV/REX/Shutterstock