Paula Tilbrook says retiring from Emmerdale after 21 years playing Betty Eagleton is 1both the ‘happiest and saddest day of my life’.

Betty has been the village gossip since she first appeared in 1994, ostensibly for just three episodes. Being an old friend of Seth Armstrong she soon put down roots in the village and even fell prey to wheeler dealer, Eric Pollard. Seth proposed at the end of her first year, but the marriage never happened when they postponed it indefinitely.

At the end of filming on her last day, Paula said. “I have been at Emmerdale for 21 years and I’ve loved every moment. Today is both the saddest and the happiest day of my life. Happy because I’ve got everyone here with me, but the sad part is I’m leaving. But there is a great atmosphere and it is nice to go out on a high.”

Emmerdale’s series producer Kate Oates said: “It’s impossible to overstate how much everyone at Emmerdale will miss Paula. In Betty, she’s created a British television icon: someone who has lit up our screens and touched our hearts. Off screen, she is an integral part of the Emmerdale family: an inspiration to those she works with, as well as a fabulous raconteur and hilarious storyteller. We are sad to lose her from the programme, but wish her the happy retirement she so deserves.”

Paula’s last scenes will be appear on Emmerdale in ITV mid May.