Bill Tarmey, the actor who brought joy to millions as Jack Duckworth in Coronation Street, has died.

The family of the 71-year-old confirmed that he passed away this morning in Tenerife and have asked the media for privacy as they grieve for a wonderful husband, father and brother.

A spokesperson for the popular ITV soap said "The cast, crew and production team at Coronation Street are devastated to hear of Bill's death. Our thoughts and prayers are with Bill's wife and soulmate Ali and their family at this very sad time."

He first appeared in the soap in the role of Jack in 1979 and he played the character continuously from 1983 to 2010. His on-screen partnership with wife Vera, played by Liz Dawn, created some of the soap's most memorable moments. The pair constantly bickered on screen but the couple proved to one of the Street's most enduring. Jack died peacefully in the same chair as Vera had in 2008 but not before Liz Dawn made a surprise appearance so the couple could enjoy one last dance.

Tarmey, a native Mancunian, started his working life as a builder but moved into the world of showbiz singing in working men's clubs.

He had suffered from poor health for many years and had a heart attack at the age of 35, followed by a stroke a year later. He underwent a quadruple heart bypass 15 years ago and another bypass operation in June 2002. It was his health concerns which led him to leave the soap in 2010.

Nigel Pivaro, who played the Duckworths' son Terry, said: "I am devastated to learn of the passing of someone who became a huge part of both my professional and personal life, who I came to look on as a second father.

"He was a very wise and dignified man who taught me a great deal and whose counsel I came to value greatly.

"He was a lovely man who cared deeply for his family and friends. We are all rightly bereft at the loss we will feel knowing that the world will be a little poorer without Bill to lighten it up with his warm humour."

Antony Cotton, who plays Sean Tully remembered Tarmey on Twitter saying: "Goodnight Bill Tarmey. You were the best. We'll miss you so much x"