Eastenders actor John Bardon, who played Dot Branning's husband Jim, has died aged 75. Bardon suffered a stroke seven years ago and was forced to reduce his appearances on the BBC One soap opera.

John BardonJohn Bardon played Jim Branning on 'Eastenders' [Getty/Bruno VIncent]

June Brown, who played John's on-screen wife Dot, said: "I shall miss him very much and shall always love him dearly."

A spokesman for the soap said the cast and crew are "absolutely heartbroken" at the news of John's death.

"John was an exceptionally talented actor whose humour, mischievousness and brilliant performances made Jim Branning one of Walford's most loveable, memorable characters, and we will miss John forever," she added.

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Natalie Cassidy, who played John's screen granddaughter Sonia, said: "I never had a real granddad so John was like an actual granddad to me. He was a lovely man and I learnt a lot from him."

Before suffering from ill health, Bardon's character was a regular fixture on Eastenders - and was often found in the Queen Vic, or placing a sly bet at the bookies. 

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Before Eastenders, Bardon also appearance in 'Birds of a Feather', 'Dad's Army' and 'Only Fools and Horses'. The actor also had a recurring role in the ITV comedy Up The Elephant and Round The Castle, and played a racist neighbour of the Khan family in the hit British film East is East.

However, Bardon's career highlight came when he won an Olivier Award for his 1988 performance in the musical Kiss Me Kate.