Veteran British actor Ian Holm - best known for his appearances in The Lord Of The Rings and Chariots of Fire - has died aged 88, his agent has confirmed.

Alex Irwin, from Markham, Froggatt & Irwin, said: "It is with great sadness we can confirm that the actor Sir Ian Holm CBE passed away this morning at the age of 88.

"He died peacefully in hospital, with his family and carer. His illness was Parkinson's related.

"He was a genius of stage and screen, winning multiple awards and loved by directors, audiences and his colleagues alike.

"His sparkling wit always accompanied a mischievous twinkle in his eye," he added. "Charming, kind and ferociously talented, we will miss him hugely."

A star on both stage and screen, Ian Holm is probably best-known to a modern audience for the role of Bilbo Baggins in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit film series. It transformed him from revered actor into household name.

In an unlikely twist, some two decades earlier he had played Frodo Baggins, Bilbo's cousin and heir, in a BBC radio adaptation of the JRR Tolkien books.

In a 2004 interview with the Independent he admitted that he was completely amazed by the reaction to the films.

He added: "I get a lot of fan mail addressed to Bilbo and sometimes Sir Bilbo - it's hardly ever addressed to Ian Holm, in fact.

"My business manager drafts the replies, and then I pop into the office and sign them 'Bilbo' but, of course, it hasn't changed my life. Nothing could possibly change my life."

He received the 1967 Tony Award for Best Featured Actor for his performance as Lenny in The Homecoming and the 1998 Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor for his performance in the title role of King Lear.

He won the 1981 BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for his role as athletics trainer Sam Mussabini in Chariots of Fire, for which he was also nominated for an Academy Award.

His other well-known film roles include Ash in Alien, Father Vito Cornelius in The Fifth Element, and the voice of Chef Skinner in Ratatouille.