Actor who played TV sleuth Van der Valk dies at 70

Click to follow

Barry Foster, the West End actor who was best known for playing the television detective Piet Van der Valk in the 1970s, died suddenly yesterday at the age of 70.

Mr Foster had been performing in the play Art in London, but was taken ill on Friday. He is thought to have had a heart attack while being cared for at the Royal Surrey Hospital in Guildford.

Sandy Rees, his agent for more than 20 years, said: "He was a great wit and had the clearest intelligence and enthusiasm."

Barry Foster was born in Nottingham and trained as an actor at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London, where he became close friends with the actor David Baron, now better known as the playwright Harold Pinter. His friendship led to a series of appearances in Pinter works, which became part of a varied career including a memorable performance in a late Hitchcock film, Frenzy, in 1972.

As Piet Van der Valk, he became one of Britain's best-known television stars. Other television work included the spy dramaSmiley's People in 1982.

Judith, his wife of more than 40 years, said she wanted last night's performance of Art to go ahead in tribute to him.

They had three children, two of whom – Miranda and Joanna – followed him into the acting profession.