The former star of Anglia Television's police drama The Chief has died.

Tim Pigott-Smith played Ch Con John Stafford in the popular 1990s show having previously made his name in The Jewel in the Crown and Doctor Who.

His glittering acting career spanned five decades and he had been due to appear at the Royal and Derngate theatre in Northampton this week in their production of Death of a Salesman.

Mr Pigott-Smith's agent announced his death on Friday.

"It is with deep regret that I have to announce the sad news that Tim Pigott-Smith died this morning. Tim was one of the great actors of his generation. Much loved and admired by his peers, he will be remembered by many as a gentleman and a true friend. He will be much missed."

John Grant, agent.

Tributes have since flooded in, including from the Chief Executive and Artistic Director of the Royal and Derngate, where the 70-year-old was set to appear on stage alongside his wife Pamela Miles.

"Everyone at Royal & Derngate and all involved with the production of Death Of A Salesman are deeply saddened by this tragic news. Our heartfelt sympathies at this time are with Tim’s wife Pamela and their family.”

Martin Sutherland, Chief Executive, and James Dacre, Artistic Director, Royal and Derngate Theatre.
Tim Pigott-Smith, who has died at the age of 70. Credit: Press Association Images.

The show's opening night was postponed earlier in the week after Ms Miles broke a bone during rehearsals. The run was set to begin on Monday with an understudy standing in for her.

Stars of the stage and screen have been lining up to share their memories of Mr Pigott-Smith on social media.

Mr Pigott-Smith had already filmed the forthcoming BBC2 drama King Charles III having successfully played the title role in the theatre production on Broadway and in the West End.

The play and TV drama depict Charles as monarch after the Queen's death as he refuses to sign a controversial bill into law.

It chronicles the political chaos that follows, leading to a constitutional crisis, rioting on the streets and a tank in front of Buckingham Palace.

The play won the Olivier Award and the Critics' Circle Theatre Award for best new play and was staged in London and New York, with Pigott-Smith winning rave reviews on both sides of the Atlantic.

He was nominated for both an Olivier and a Tony Award for his performance.