Ant and Dec pay tribute to Byker Grove and Emmerdale actor Dale Meeks after he dies aged 48

Dale Meeks from South Shields died from "heart failure" on Saturday evening at South Tyneside hospital. Credit: ITV/ Shutterstock

Tributes have been paid to Emmerdale actor Dale Meeks after his death at the age of 48.

Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly have been among those to pay tribute to their Byker Grove co-star.

The actor played Simon Meredith on ITV soap Emmerdale between 2003 and 2006 after starring in BBC drama Byker Grove as a leader of Denton Burn, the rival youth group to the Byker Grove youth club.

He last appeared in a cameo role in the ITV drama series, The Hunt For Raoul Moat.

Meeks, from South Shields, died from "heart failure" on Saturday evening at South Tyneside hospital.

Dale Meeks, who played Simon Meredith on ITV soap Emmerdale, has died at the age of 48. Credit: ITV/Emmerdale

His brother Philip Meeks, 55, said he was due to turn 49 on the day of the King's coronation, adding: "My heart is broken."

Ant and Dec, who played PJ and Duncan in Byker Grove, paid their tributes on social media.

In a statement on twitter they wrote:"We are so incredibly sorry to hear the very sad news of Dale's passing.

"He was the loveliest of guys, even though he was a Denton 'Burner', the arch nemesis of the Byker 'Grovers'.

"A sad loss at such a young age. RIP Dale. Sleep well bonny lad."

Responding to the tweet, Dale's brother Philip said: "That's absolutely lovely.

"I sort of remember meeting them as kids myself. He (Dale) was in Byker Grove, he made one of them blind, not in real life."

Dale Meeks played the character of Simon Meredith between 2003 and 2006. Credit: ITV/Emmerdale

North East actress Charlie Hardwick, who starred in Emmerdale with Meeks from 2004 until his exit in 2006, paid tribute to her co-star.

She told ITV Tyne Tees: "I'm very saddened by this dreadful news. I liked Dale so much and loved working with him.

"He was a funny, sweet, very talented gentle giant."

Meeks also had a love for the theatre, both on and off stage. He starred in a number of pantomimes, including Cinderella at the Sunderland Empire in 2007 alongside Michelle Heaton.

The singer said she was really sad to hear about the death of her "fellow Northerner" and had fond memories of working together.

She said: "He made me and my then-husband Andy (Scott-Lee) feel so welcome and had been a regular at panto throughout many years and just made us feel really welcome and at ease."

The former Liberty X star added: "It's a real shame that we've lost him."

As well as treading the boards, Meeks co-wrote a play based on South Shields FC FA Vase victory over Cleethorpes Town in 2017.

Following his death, the club tweeted their condolence: "Everyone at SSFC was saddened to learn of the death of Dale Meeks yesterday.

"Dale co-wrote Everywhere We Go, the popular play based on our journey to FA Vase success in 2017.

"Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this very difficult time."

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