Derek Fowlds: Yes Minister and Heartbeat actor dies aged 82

Yes Minister star Derek Fowlds has died aged 82, his family has said.

The actor was best known for playing the private secretary Bernard Woolley in the popular 80s sitcom, and he later reprised the role in the sequel series Yes, Prime Minister.

Fowlds also played Oscar Blaketon in long-running ITV police drama Heartbeat during a successful TV career that began when he took on the role of Mr Derek on The Basil Brush Show.

He appeared alongside the iconic puppet fox with his trademark "boom boom!" catchphrase from 1969 to 1973, replacing Rodney Bewes as presenter.

Basil Brush tweeted: "I don't know what to say, I'm so desperately sad. Such times we had, rest in peace Mr Derek, my best friend forever."

Yes Minister, which also starred Sir Nigel Hawthorne and Paul Eddington, ran from 1980 until 1984, with its follow-up series airing from 1986 to 1988.

Shaun Of The Dead and Hot Fuzz director Edgar Wright tweeted a clip of Fowlds' famous Yes Minister scene about the newspaper industry, saying: "RIP Derek Fowlds AKA 'Mr Derek' AKA Sir Bernard Woolley. This is as classic a scene in British comedy as they come."

Heartbeat ran from 1992 until 2009, and more recently Fowlds appeared in Casualty and Doctors on the BBC.

His family confirmed that he had died at Royal United Hospitals Bath in the early hours of Friday, surrounded by his friends and relatives.

Fowlds, who is survived by sons Jamie and Jeremy, had been suffering from pneumonia, which led to heart failure caused by sepsis.

Helen Bennett, his personal assistant and long-time friend, said: "He was the most beloved man to everybody who ever met him, he never had a bad word to say about anybody and he was so well respected, adored by everyone.

"You couldn't have met a nicer person ever, he was just a wonderful man and I will miss him terribly."

Fowlds also appeared on the West End, making his debut in The Miracle Worker, and starred in several films.

Among his big screen appearances were Tamahine, East Of Sudan and Hotel Paradiso.

He released his autobiography, A Part Worth Playing, in 2015.

It came 57 years after his first professional acting job, at the Prince Of Wales Theatre in Colwyn Bay, during the summer break from the Royal Academy Of Dramatic Arts.