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Obituary: Kevin Lloyd

FOR 10 years, the down-at-heel detective "Tosh" Lines was a mainstay of The Bill, the television series acclaimed for its true-to-life portrayal of the police. Through more than 400 episodes of one of the small screen's most popular series, DC Lines's trademarks were his moustache, raincoat and expanding waistline as he chased drug dealers, sex offenders and other baddies. But, in later years, the actor's personal problems overshadowed his screen image and led to his dismissal from the programme, less than a week before his death at the age of 49.

Born in Derby, he was the son of a policeman, Ellis ("Taft") Lloyd, who was killed when his car skidded off the road during an emergency call, leaving Kevin's mother a widow with young children to bring up. As a child, he enjoyed playing football and cricket after battling successfully against the bone condition Perthes disease, which left him with a limp and severe pain.

On leaving school, Kevin Lloyd trained to be a solicitor but, after finding his vocation in amateur dramatics, switched career and trained at the East 15 Acting School, between 1970 and 1973. He did repertory seasons in Bristol, Liverpool, Manchester, Southampton, Crewe, Birmingham and Sheffield, and made his London stage debut in What the Butler Saw at the Royal Court Theatre, before transferring to the Whitehall Theatre. His other West End stage roles including Ducking Out (Duke of York's Theatre), The Foreigner (Albery and Whitehall Theatres), The Love Girl and the Innocent (Aldwych Theatre) and Fat Harold (Shaw Theatre).

Lloyd also appeared in half a dozen films, including the director Lindsay Anderson's acclaimed Britannia Hospital (1982), and on television in Z Cars, The Sweeney, Minder, Hazell, The Borgias, the screen version of Victoria Wood's stage play Talent, By the Sword Divided, Shine on Harvey Moon, Bergerac and Dear John before enjoying a short run in Coronation Street (1983-84) as Don Watkins, who managed the Graffiti Club for Mike Baldwin but disappeared after helping himself to the takings. More television roles followed in Auf Wiedersehen Pet, Up the Elephant and Round the Castle, Dempsey and Makepeace, All in Good Faith, Andy Capp and Boon.

Then, in 1988, Lloyd was cast as Detective Constable Constable Alfred "Tosh" Lines in The Bill, shortly after it had been transformed into a highly successful, all-year-round, twice-weekly drama following its previous run, since 1984, as a series of hour-long programmes. In 1993, an extra weekly episode was added and, three years later, Lloyd accepted the Best TV Drama award on behalf of the whole cast at the National Televeison Awards ceremony.

"When I first read the script breakdown of the Detective Constable Lines character, I felt they were describing me - 5ft 8in, overweight, scruffy and married with three sons and two daughters," recalled Lloyd, who became one of The Bill's longest-running and most popular stars, seen on screen keeping his hunger at bay by eating crisps, sandwiches and cola.

Off screen, Lloyd often talked of his happy family life with his wife, Lesley, and a houseful of children, although the couple suffered the loss of one of their daughters, Chloe, from meningitis at 17 months. In 1991, despite already having six children aged from two to 19, they adopted a Romanian girl. Pictures of the happy family became commonplace in newspapers and magazines; so it was a surprise when the couple split up in 1995, after 22 years of marriage, amid newspaper headlines about the star's heavy drinking and his wife's claims of violence. Lloyd blamed his difficulties on commuting home to his family in Duffield, Derbyshire, every day after long hours of filming in London.

As he battled with his problems, the actor found some stability in continuing in his television role and, earlier this year, The Bill's producers paid for him to receive treatment for his drinking at a Birmingham clinic. Last Tuesday, a day after being sacked from the programme for arriving on set drunk, he booked into a clinic in Rolleston, Staffordshire, in a final, unsuccessful effort to beat his alcoholism.

Lloyd's autobiography, The Man Who Loved Too Much, was published in 1997.

Kevin Reardon Lloyd, actor: brn Derby 28 March 1949; married (four sons, two daughters, one adopted daughter, and one daughter deceased); died Burton, Staffordshire 2 May 1998.