CASUALTY star Simon MacCorkindale has died after a four year fight with terminal lung cancer.
The 58-year-old British actor who did not smoke passed away in the arms of his wife, the actress Susan George.
Last night she issued a dignified statement: “No one could have fought this disease any harder than Simon did since being diagnosed four years ago.
“He fought it with such strength, courage and belief.
“Last night, he lost this battle, and he died peacefully in my arms.
“To me, he was simply the best of everything, and I loved him with all my heart.
“He will live on in me forever.”
The actor, who played consultant Harry Harper in the BBC1 medical drama, was pronounced dead at the London Clinic, Harley Street, on Thursday evening.
Friends described Ms George as “distraught”.
The couple had been married for 26 years in one of show business’s most enduring marriages.
They met when he was a devastatingly handsome young film star and she was at the height of her sex symbol years after the controversial Straw Dogs.
Simon was first diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2006 after complaining of stomach cramps while filming Casualty in Bristol.
Doctors expected him to make a swift and full recovery after surgeons removed a 2ft diseased section of his colon.
But a year later he was told the cancer had spread to his lungs and was incurable. He was given fewer than five years to live.
For three years he kept his illness a secret from friends and colleagues, saying he did not want people to feel sorry for him.
But last year he admitted he had terminal cancer.
He said the news had come as a “complete bombshell” because he did not smoke and lived a healthy lifestyle.
As well as lengthy courses of chemotherapy in the UK, Simon had travelled to America for intensive homeopathy to boost his strength. In recent weeks his condition deteriorated.
Last night his agent Roger Chateris said: “Up until the last few weeks Simon was winning the battle but in the past 10 days the cancer just took over.
“He wasn’t in hospital very long before he passed away.
“He died in Susan’s arms and she is absolutely distraught.”
Last night John Yorke, controller of BBC drama production, said: “He bore his illness so stoically – never asking for sympathy.”
Simon’s big screen break came in 1978 in Death on the Nile with stars including Mia Farrow. His good looks ensured a money-spinning US career in the 1980s, as the male lead in Manimal.
He joined Casualty’s cast in 2002, but his illness forced him to leave in 2008.