John Bardon dead: Eastenders actor, who played Jim Branning, dies, aged 75

The actor appeared as Jim Branning from 1996 to 2011

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Eastenders star John Bardon has died, aged 75.

The actor - who played Jim Branning, the husband of Dot Cotton, in the long-running BBC series - passed away this morning (12 September).

He joined the British soap in 1996, leaving in 2011 due to poor health. He had previously suffered a stroke in 2007.

Bardon is survived by his wife, Enda Gates, whom he married in 2002.

The BBC published a statement paying tribute to the actor:

"Everyone at EastEnders is absolutely heartbroken to learn that John has sadly passed away," the statement read. "His bravery, dignity and courage in battling against the devastating effects of his stroke were admired by all who had the privilege of working with him.

"Loved by us all, 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.

"Our love and deepest sympathies are extended to Enda, his truly wonderful wife, at this very sad time.  May he now rest in peace. Tonight’s episode of EastEnders is dedicated to John, who will be sorely missed by all those who knew and worked with him."

June Brown - who plays the soap's Dot Cotton - was also quick to celebrate the life of her on-screen husband.

"I am so sorry that John has passed away but hope that he is now at peace after seven difficult years,”  said Brown. “I shall miss him very much as I loved him dearly. My thoughts are with his devoted wife, Enda.”

Bardon's other acting credits include Dad's Army, Only Fools and Horses and Rumpole of the Bailey. In 1988, he received the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Musical for his role in Kiss Me, Kate.