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Benidorm star Kenny Ireland, who played incorrigible swinger Donald Stewart in the hit ITV comedy, has succumbed to cancer at the age of 68.

The versatile Scottish actor and director had starred in Benidorm since its launch in 2007.

His co-star Danny Walters (Tiger Dyke) tweeted: “Very sad news about Kenny Ireland (Donald Stewart) Thanks for teaching me how to play backgammon. RIP Kenny x”

Benidorm creator Derren Litten tweeted: “Terribly sad news guys. Kenny Ireland lost his very long battle with cancer this morning. Miss you so much already dear friend. X”

Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond wrote: “Sad to hear Kenny Ireland – a great actor & former director – has passed away. Deepest condolences to his family and friends.”

Besides Benidorm, Kenny had a long and varied career on TV and the stage – he was part of Victoria Wood’s fictional rep company in the BBC series Victoria Wood As Seen On TV and was director at Edinburgh’s Royal Lyceum Theatre for more than a decade until 2003.

He was written out of the latest series of Benidorm in June so he could concentrate on his cancer treatment.