Friends and actors have expressed their shock and dismay on hearing of the death of Mike Reid, best-known for playing the role of Frank ButCher in EastEnders.

The actor and stand-up comedian died of heart attack in his villa in Spain yesterday.

Fellow comedian and close friend Frank Carson said the news was "absolutely devastating".

"Everyone in showbusiness will be shocked because this was one of the great friends of anything you wanted to do in show business," he added.

Steve McFadden, who plays the character of Phil Mitchell in the BBC soap, spoke highly of Reid's talents as an actor.

"Mike was a lovely man and a good actor. He gave me a lot of advice which has often helped me," he said.

Pam St Clements, who played Frank Butcher's wife in EastEnders and starred alongside Reid for many years, said: "I'm sorry to lose such a dear friend and colleague.

"It has come as a terrible shock. Somebody larger than life as Mike, as a person and character, seemed indestructible."

Comedian Russ Abbott who starred alongside Reid in ITV show The Comedians praised the star's wit and sense of humour.

"A very, very funny man and a great storyteller. There are certain comedians who do one-liners, you know, which bounce off each other," Abbott said.

"But Mike was a story-teller and a great deliverer of great, great jokes."

Reid started his career as a standup comedian on London's comedy clubs and on cruise liners. He then took up the career of a stuntman with roles in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and war epic Spartacus.

He also acted as a stunt double for Roger Moore in The Saint before switching to the small screen and a role on ITV's The Comedians in 1973.

Reid hosted a children's television show called Runaround in the late 1970s, but the role he is most remembered for is that of Frank Butcher in EastEnders.

He played the role of the wistful dreamer on Albert Square from 1987 to 2000 before leaving the soap due to fatigue from the long filming schedules. His last appearance on the soap was in December 2005.

30/07/2007 07:43:01