SIMON MacCorkindale, the film star who became a stalwart of the BBC drama Casualty, has died after a four-year battle with cancer.
The 58-year-old died in the arms of his wife, Susan George, at a clinic in Harley Street.
In a statement released last night, the actress said: ‘No one could have fought this disease any harder than he 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. I loved him with all my heart. He will live on in me for ever.’
MacCorkindale had kept his illness a secret even from his closest friends until last year. He had been diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2006 after complaining of stomach cramps while filming Casualty in Bristol.
In an interview, he said: ‘I didn’t want to make a fuss. We are very private people and wanted to deal with it on our own.’
Surgeons operated and gave an optimistic prognosis but then discovered that the cancer had spread to MacCorkindale’s lungs and was incurable.
He spent the past year on the 17th century Exmoor farm where he and Miss George ran an Arabian stud business.
Last night, John Yorke, head of BBC drama production, said: ‘As the star and male lead of Casualty for over six years we owe Simon a massive debt.
‘Not only was he a fabulously iconic consultant, he was also an inspirational team leader. One of the reasons so many people have loved working with him on Casualty is because of the tone he established on the shop floor – always welcoming, always disciplined, always quietly the leader.
‘Simon had an extraordinary career encompassing – among many other things – matinee idol, Hollywood lead, film and theatre director, film producer and horse breeder.
‘That amazing energy and appetite for life remained with him to the end.
‘It is a massive tribute to Simon that he bore his illness so stoically -never asking for sympathy or attention, and continuing to work for as long as he was able. He will be missed massively by his many fans, and by everyone who worked with him.’ MacCorkindale – born in Cambridge and educated at Haileybury public school – had wanted to follow in the footsteps of his RAF officer father.
But his eyesight was not good enough and he switched to drama and a 30-year career playing handsome, often caddish roles.
His big break came in 1978 when he starred in an adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile.
MacCorkindale moved to the U.S. in 1980 and found that his good looks were in demand, including in the soap opera Falcon Crest. He returned to the UK in 1986 and directed, wrote and produced a number of projects. He joined the cast of Casualty in 2002 and bowed out after more than 200 episodes.
Previously married to the actress Fiona Fullerton, he made his final appearance on TV last Friday in the BBC1 drama New Tricks.
Miss George, 60, who appeared with Dustin Hoffman in the cult movie Straw Dogs and dated Prince Charles, was once voted the sexiest woman in the world.
She and MacCorkindale met in 1977 at a concert in London when they were both in relationships.
They started seeing each other in 1982 and married two years later.