Former Coronation Street actor Geoffrey Hughes has died aged 68 after a long battle with prostate cancer, his agent has confirmed.

The actor’s family said that he passed away “peacefully in his sleep” on Friday night, and described his fight against the disease as “courageous”.

Hughes began his small screen career in the 1960s in such shows as Z Cars and The Likely Lads, but found fame as binman Eddie Yeats in Corrie during the 70s and 80s, eventually leaving the soap in 1984.

He went on to star in the BBC1 sitcom Keeping Up Appearances as the slobbish Onslow, and later played Twiggy in another BBC hit, The Royle Family.

Hughes also appeared in Heartbeat and Skins, as well as making guest appearances in the likes of Doctor Who and Casualty – and was the voice of Paul McCartney in the animated Beatles movie Yellow Submarine.

The actor – who was also Deputy Lord Lieutenant for the Isle of Wight where he lived – initially thought he had beaten prostate cancer in 2009, but he and his wife Sue discovered the disease had returned after collapsing at his home the following year.

Tributes poured in for the actor as news of his death became public, with William Roache – aka Corrie’s Ken Barlow – among the first to express his sorrow.

“I am so sorry to hear about Geoffrey,” he said. “He was a warm, lovable actor, with great comedy timing. He will be greatly missed, one of the Street’s memorable characters.”

A Coronation Street spokeswoman added, “We are very sad to hear of the death of Geoffrey Hughes. He created a legendary and iconic character in Eddie Yeats who will always be part of Coronation Street. Everyone connected with the programme send our sincerest condolences to his family.”