Tributes have been paid to Northern Irish actor James Ellis who died in Lincoln on Saturday, one week short of his 83rd birthday.
He began his acting career in 1952 at Belfast’s Group Theatre before moving to England in the early 1960s.
His first big break came when he was cast as Bert Lynch in police drama Z-Cars, which ran from 1962 to 1978.
The Belfast-born actor also starred in programmes including Doctor Who, In Sickness And In Health, Ballykissangel and Only Fools And Horses.
Martin Lynch, who had known Mr Ellis for more than 25 years, said: “His was the first Belfast accent that people in the UK regularly heard in their lives – ever.
“This opened the gates for all kinds of accents after that. I have spoken to some of the actors who went across [to England] and they said they looked at Jimmy Ellis and said ‘if he can do it, we can do it’.”
Ulster-born actor Adrian Dunbar told the BBC that he had known Jimmy Ellis as a friend and a companion for many years. “He was a wonderful actor and a warm and generous man,” he said. “He blazed a trail for many actors in Northern Ireland.”
Top storyteller and a great ambassador
He received an honorary doctorate for services to the performing arts from Queen’s University in 2008.
— Love Belfast (@love_belfast) March 8, 2014
Actor James Ellis has died. Great talent & guts. His best,for me: an unforgettable Dad in Graham Reid's 'Billy' plays http://t.co/qQQKyTKMcA
— Cathal Mac Coille (@CathalMacCoille) March 10, 2014
World of arts loses another son with passing of Belfast born actor James Ellis recently painted by Colin Davidson… pic.twitter.com/UZLPo5q7Yh
— Eamonn Mallie (@EamonnMallie) March 8, 2014
RIP lovely James Ellis. An honour to have been in your company a few times over the years. Sleep the long sleep. BK x
— BRIAN KENNEDY (@KennedySinger) March 8, 2014
Goodnight Jimmy. Belfast salutes you. James Ellis (15 March 1931 – 8 March 2014). pic.twitter.com/Ss7tFPowYL
— David Blevins (@skydavidblevins) March 8, 2014
Very proud to call James Ellis my grandad. The tributes on twitter are comforting and the whole family are grateful. pic.twitter.com/N5YxYxFdxY
— Josh (@joshdiboll) March 8, 2014
Condolences from Queen's to the family circle of its Honorary Graduate Dr James Ellis
— Queen's University (@QueensUBelfast) March 8, 2014
I'm so very sad to hear the news of James Ellis' passing. A true Belfast great. Such a privilege to have known him. pic.twitter.com/yswzYV1luA
— Colin Davidson (@colin_davidson) March 8, 2014