Veteran British actor Timothy Spall has paid tribute to his pig co-star in Bbc comedy series Blandings after learning his porky pal died in Northern Ireland last week (ends22Feb13).

The Middle White sow, named The Empress, passed away on the grounds of Crom Castle in County Fermanagh, where the Tv show is filmed.

Saddened Spall tells the Bbc, "(I am) very upset to hear of the passing of the poor old Empress. That was her stage name, I never knew her real name, but that doesn't mean I didn't have a lot of affection for her.

"She was by far the most flatulent member of the cast and, believe me, she had a lot of competition. At least she had a late life in showbiz which she enjoyed very much when she managed to wake up and I believe she had a luxurious life after her showbiz debut, as she stayed living in the castle."

The Empress, one of two pigs used on the show, is said to have died from a massive heart attack.

Blandings, adapted from the Blandings Castle stories by English humorist P.G. Wodehouse, also features British comedienne Jennifer Saunders and actor Mark Williams.