Colin Skipp, who played Tony Archer for more than 40 years on The Archers, has died at the age of 80.

The Radio 4 programme said Skipp, who featured in many of Ambridge’s most memorable storylines, “will be greatly missed”.

Skipp played Tony Archer from 1967 to 2013 before bowing out of the BBC soap because of ill health.

Its editor Jeremy Howe said: “Colin had a wonderful voice, which made Tony singular and distinctive: He was absolutely Colin’s creation”.

Pat Gallimore, who plays Tony’s wife Pat in the Radio 4 drama, said: “Colin and I shared many years together as radio spouses before ill health forced him to retire, and I have 40 years of memories to look back on with happiness.

“Colin was a very fine actor who brought truth and integrity to the role of Tony, as well as being a good friend and generous colleague.”

His character faced tragedy over the years, blaming himself when his son John was killed in a tractor accident in 1998.

Tony had a reckless streak in his youth and at one point an exasperated Pat moved out.

The couple had two other children, Helen and Tom.

They created Bridge Farm with its profitable organic unit, which was at the vanguard of radical thinking at the time.

Skipp retired from the programme after having a series of heart attacks and actor David Troughton took over the character.