Emmerdale legend Paula Tilbrook has passed away at the age of 89, it has been confirmed.
The actress died in December last year but the news was only officially announced today, with an obituary being posted on the theatre industry website The Stage.
And her family confirmed the new in a statement to Entertainment Daily, saying, "The family of Paula Tilbrook are sad to confirm the peaceful passing of their beloved Paula.
"She died of natural causes a few months ago at home with her loved ones beside her. The family respectfully requests privacy at this difficult time."
Tilbrook starred as village gossip Betty Eagleton on the soap for 21 years from 1994 to 2015, and also had an extensive career across TV, theatre and radio.
Some of her other credits included starring in eleven episodes of Coronation Street back in 1973, appearing alongside Ian McKellen in the TV film Walter in 1982, and roles on popular TV shows including Last of the Summer Wine, Brookside, and Andy Capp.
When she left Emmerdale back in 2015, Tilbrook told RadioTimes.com that she requested for her character Betty Eagleton not to be killed off.
She said, "“I did ask Kate Oates, our producer, to not have me murdered. I was fed up of murders. It’s a very dangerous place to be. You’re better off in the Bronx than Emmerdale village.
"And she said to me, ‘Oh no, of course I won’t’. And she hasn’t. It’s a proper happy ending. Who doesn’t like a happy ending?”
On her character's ending, which saw her leave the village to live with a man she'd met on her travels in Australia, she said, "I’m absolutely overawed by it. I’m over the moon and I fill up every time I think about it.
“What Betty will miss most are the people. Every one of them. And it’s the same for me – I’ll miss the people desperately.”
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