The Bill actor Ben Roberts dies aged 70

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Ben Roberts, who played Chief Inspector Derek Conway in The Bill, has died aged 70.

The Wales-born actor, who starred in the ITV police drama between 1987 and 2000, died on Monday, according to his agent.

Roberts was best known for playing the dogged and career-focused officer Conway, but later moved into film and appeared in features by Tim Burton and James Bond director Cary Fukunaga.

Lizanne Crowther Management (LCM), which represented Roberts until he stopped working, confirmed his death to the PA news agency.

A statement from LCM on Twitter said: “Remembering the wonderful Ben Roberts who sadly passed away on Monday. Best known as Chief Inspector Derek Conway in The Bill & he had an extensive career in theatre, TV & film. Our thoughts are with his wife Helen & family at this time.”

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Roberts was born in Bangor in July 1950 and his first TV role was in A Woman’s Place, alongside Ralph Bates.

He appeared in crime drama The Professionals and played a minor role in Doctor Who in 1984.

In 1987 he was cast as Conway in The Bill, an old-fashioned and moralistic officer acting as Chief Superintendent Brownlow’s right-hand man.

His exit saw him killed in a car-bomb attack as part of a cast shake-up by new producer Paul Marquess.

In 2011, he played Briggs in Fukunaga’s Jane Eyre and in 2014 played Jean in A Little Chaos directed by Alan Rickman.

In 2016, he appeared in Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children, directed by Burton.

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Film producer Jonathan Sothcott was among those paying tribute.

He wrote on Twitter: “RIP #BenRoberts – Conway in The Bill – terrific character actor, totally believable. They really did cast that show so well.”

Actor Martin Delaney, whose film credits include Zero Dark Thirty, said: “Ben was in the episodes of my first ever experience on The Bill – a three-part special that we made. He kept the morale up on a few long night shoots!

“Years later when doing Family Affairs, we shared studios with The Bill. Used to see him around a lot – a true character. RIP Ben.”

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