Emmerdale pays tribute to former actress Paula Tilbrook following news of her death

Tributes have been paid to former Emmerdale star Paula Tilbrook following news of her death aged 89.

Actress Paula Tilbrook, pictured at a memorial service at Leeds Minster in 2013 for actor Richard Thorp
Actress Paula Tilbrook, pictured at a memorial service at Leeds Minster in 2013 for actor Richard Thorp

Ms Tilbrook, known for her 21-year stint in the Yorkshire-based ITV soap as Betty Eagleton, died in December but news of her death was not announced by her family until today (Wednesday).

An obituary for Ms Tilbrook was published on acting and theatre news site The Stage, describing her as a "straight-talking northerner" who "quickly moved to the centre of many of the soap’s most popular storylines", while colleagues praised her as "a great talent and a wonderful friend".

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Salford-born Ms Tilbrook was also known for appearances in ITV's other soap, Coronation Street, in the 1970s and starred alongside Ian McKellan in the TV film Walter in 1982.

Actress Paula Tilbrook (picture by ITV)

She also acted in various stage productions, including Allan Stronach’s adaptation of Barry Hines’ Kes in 1978, Mike Harding’s Fur Coat and No Knickers in 1980 and in Spend, Spend, Spend the following year.

A spokeswoman for ITV said: "We are saddened to hear of the passing of our much loved colleague, Paula Tilbrook. Paula was at the heart of Emmerdale for many years and she will be greatly missed by all who worked with her and by the fans of her character, Betty.

"We have lost a great talent and a wonderful friend but she will forever live in the memories of those lucky enough to have known her."