Richard Thorp, the actor who played Alan Turner on Emmerdale for over 30 years and was the soap's longest-serving cast member, has died at the age of 81.

An Emmerdale statement read: "On behalf of the cast, crew and production team at Emmerdale, we are extremely sad to hear of Richard's death.

"A pillar of the show, he will be greatly missed around the Emmerdale studios but will forever live on in all the wonderful memories we all have of him.

"Richard was a true professional and a complete gentleman. His charm, wit and effortless grace will be sorely missed."

The soap's producer, Kate Oates, said: "Richard's death is a sad loss to Emmerdale, of which he was at the heart for so many wonderful years.

"Richard had a brilliant sense of humour and he will be missed by every single member of our production whose lives he touched."

He made his Emmerdale debut in 1982; other credits included The Dam Busters and The Barretts of Wimpole Street.