Benidorm star Geoffrey Hutchings, a familiar face from stage, TV and film for four decades, has died, aged 71.

The RADA-trained star saw his career stretch from Shakespearean theatre to a string of popular dramas, and he was most recently seen in ITV1’s Benidorm.

Hutchings’ celebrated TV roles also included the acclaimed saga Our Friends In The North, as well as Heart Of Darkness and Made In Britain.

But his work took him through a diverse range of roles, including daytime TV dramas, popular series such as Bad Girls and last year he had a brief spell in EastEnders.

The actor, who lived in central London, died suddenly in hospital at around 8am yesterday (Thursday).

His agent Roger Charteris said: “He is thought to have died from a sudden viral infection. He was fine at lunchtime on Wednesday, but he had died by Thursday morning.”

Hutchings’ latest series, the sitcom Grandma’s House written by comic Simon Amstell, is due to be screened by BBC2 this summer.

And he was due to begin filming the next series of Benidorm shortly.

The Dorchester-born actor studied French and PE at Birmingham University, later attending RADA and becoming a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1968.

He won an Olivier Award for best comedy performance in 1982 for his role in a production of Popp.