Archers actor Edward “Ted” Kelsey has died at the age of 88.
Famous for playing Joe Grundy on the BBC Radio 4 soap for 34 years, Kelsey has been hailed by the show’s editor as giving “one of the great performances in the history of British radio”.
Kelsey first appeared as the hot-tempered patriarch on The Archers in 1985, and was also known for voicing the characters Colonel K and Baron Silas Greenback in the 1980s children’s TV show Danger Mouse, as well as Mr Growbag in Wallace and Gromit’s Curse of the Were-Rabbit.
On screen, he appeared in shows including The Vicar of Dibley, Doctor Who and The Avengers.
Kelsey’s family said: “Ted counted himself immensely lucky that he was able to enjoy a long and varied career doing the thing that he loved, entertaining an audience, and fortunate indeed to have met and worked with so many talented, generous, creative people along the way.
“He embodied the principle that the show must always go on – his chief concern through increasing ill health the need to convince medical staff he was fit enough to record with his ‘extended family’ in Birmingham.”
Editor of The Archers, Jeremy Howe, added: “Ted’s time in Ambridge gave us one of the great performances in the history of British radio – idiosyncratic, warm, cantankerous yet generous, dripping with the Grundy magic and wonderfully funny.
“Ted’s Joe Grundy was a brilliant creation because Ted was a brilliant actor – and a truly lovely man and great company member. A cherished part of our team, I am sure all of us will agree that working with Ted was a rare privilege and he will be very much missed.”
Tim Bentinck, who plays David Archer on the soap, said his character’s next birthday would be particularly poignant because it falls on the same day as that of Kelsey’s Joe Grundy.
“It was a privilege and a huge pleasure to work with him when Joe and David had scenes together,” said Bentick.
“And they share a birthday, which, with David’s 60th coming up, will be poignant as the first one David doesn’t share with Joe.”
He added: “He brought such life and subtlety to his performances, an object lesson in great radio acting.”
Bentinck, Ania Sowinski, Barry Farrimond and James Cartwright were among The Archers cast to pay tribute to Kelsey on Twitter.
Kelsey recorded his final Archers scenes in April, and they will be heard on air in the coming weeks.