Friends and co-stars pay tribute to Lovejoy actor Dudley Sutton

The star best known for playing Tinker Dill in the BBC comedy has died aged 85

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - MARCH 19: Dudley Sutton attends a reunion of the cast of The Devils in Memory of Director Ken Russell at BFI Southbank on March 19, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Stuart Wilson/Getty Images)

Celebrity fans and friends of Lovejoy actor Dudley Sutton have been paying their respects to the star following news of his death at the age of 85.

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Sutton was best known for playing Tinker Dill, a tout who was friends with Ian McShane’s eponymous roguish antique dealer Lovejoy, in the beloved BBC comedy, which ran for 71 episodes between 1986 and 1994.

A statement from Sutton’s agent confirmed that the actor had died peacefully at the Royal Trinity Hospice in London on Saturday (15th September), after being diagnosed with cancer. He was surrounded by his family, who have since released a message via the Guardian:

“Today we’re devastated by the loss of our beautiful Dudley, who leaves a gaping hole in all our lives. We’re grateful for the love expressed by friends and fans everywhere and for the extraordinary care he received at the Royal Trinity Hospice in Clapham, south London, where he went out fighting for our NHS.”

Tributes to the late actor have been pouring in from social media, including many from former co-stars.

“My dear, dear pal. Dudley Sutton died today. I loved him dearly,” said former Lovejoy co-star Chris Jury. “Condolences to Fanny, Peter, Barnaby, Wally and Jacqueline and all the rest of his family… and of course his extended family amongst the friends of Bill W. Love you Duds.”

Beyond Lovejoy, Sutton was a veteran of the screen both big and small. He was known for his recurring role as conman Wilfred Atkins in BBC soap Eastenders, as well as smaller parts in shows like Holby City and Channel 4 teen drama Skins. He also featured in the 1976 Christmas special of BBC sitcom Porridge, where he played unstable hostage taker Reg Urwin opposite Ronnie Barker and Richard Beckinsale.

In 2017, Sutton starred in a music video for Keane singer Tom Chaplin’s solo single Midnight Mass.

Chaplain joined tributes on Twitter, saying: “Sad to hear about Dudley Sutton dying. He played a wonderful lead role in the video for my song Midnight Mass. Off-camera he was full of steadfast beliefs, warmth and fun! And, of course, he played Tinker in my favourite TV show of all time.”

Emily Atack, known for her role as Charlotte in the Inbetweeners, appeared in 2011 gambling comedy Outside Bet alongside Sutton. She shared a photo on Instagram of herself and Sutton on the film’s set with the late actor Bob Hoskins.

She wrote: “So sad to hear Dudley Sutton has passed. Such a hilarious, warm, talented man who I’m so honoured to have worked with. Sending love to his family who he spoke of always.”

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Quadrophenia star Phil Davis, who also featured in Outside Bet, tweeted: “RIP Dudley Sutton a great actor, wonderful bloke, a true original. I loved him. He will be greatly missed.”