Actor Freddie Jones, best known for his role as Sandy Thomas in Emmerdale, has died at the age of 91.

The veteran character actor's death was announced by his agent, Lesley Duff. 

"It is with great sadness that I can confirm the death of Freddie Jones," Duff told the Press Association.

"He passed away on the evening of July 9 after a short illness.

"Freddie was a much loved and admired actor, known for his triumphs in classical theatre, film and television. He will be greatly missed by all who had the pleasure of knowing him and most especially his family."

Paying tribute, Emmerdale said: "Everyone at Emmerdale is deeply sad to hear about the death of one of the show's most brilliant actors and favourite human beings, Freddie Jones."

Jones, the father of actor Toby Jones, played Sandy Thomas on Emmerdale from 2005 until last year. He appeared in over 600 episodes of the ITV soap.

His co-star Charlotte Bellamy, who plays Laurel Thomas, said: "We have heard today the wonderful Freddie Jones has passed away. He was 91-years-old.

"I was lucky enough to work with Freddie for over 13 years when I played his daughter-in-law. I was in awe of his professionalism, humour and his zest for life.

"He spent his last working years here at Emmerdale where he was loved and respected by us all.

"The world is a poorer place without him."

Having performed in amateur theatre while working as a laboratory assistant, Jones decided to become a full-time actor later in life, making his film debut in 1967's Marat/Sade.

His many credits included the David Lynch films The Elephant Man, Dune and Wild at Heart and John Schlesinger's Far from the Madding Crowd. On television his credits included the series Heartbeat, Vanity Fair, The Caesars and Jackanory.

Mark Charnock, who plays Emmerdale's Marlon Dingle, said: "I was one of the fortunate few to share a dressing room with Freddie for more than a decade. He was an amazing man.

"I can't begin to describe the affection the entire cast and crew held for him. He was truly adored. He would light up the set with his wit and charm and privately was the most hilarious, fascinating company.

"He'd worked everywhere, with everyone and his anecdotes were gold dust and like many others, I'll treasure my friendship with him forever.

"People like Freddie don't come along very often and everyone at Emmerdale knew what it meant to have him in our cast. So lucky. A brilliant actor. An absolute gent."

Emmerdale airs weeknights on Virgin Media One and ITV.

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