Former James Bond star Sir Roger Moore has died in Switzerland at the age of 89 after a short battle with cancer.

His family released a statement announcing his death from cancer today [Tues] "with a heavy heart".

"The love with which he was surrounded in his final days was so great it cannot be quantified in words alone."

"We know our own love and admiration will be magnified many times over across the world, by people who knew him for his films, his television shows, and his passionate work for Unicef, which he considered to be his greatest achievement," it said.

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The statement said Moore had loved being onstage, his last public appearance being in November 2016 when he appeared at London's Royal Festival Hall.

"The capacity crowd cheered him on and offstage, shaking the very foundations of the building, just a short distance from where he was born," the statement said.

"Thank you Pops for being you, and for being so very special to so many people.

"Our thoughts must now turn to supporting Kristina at this difficult time, and in accordance with our father's wishes there will be a private funeral in Monaco."

Moore was the third actor to play Ian Fleming's 'licensed to kill' secret agent.

Sir Roger was also the longest-serving actor to play the womanising MI6 agent, having portrayed 007 in seven films.

In addition to starring in seven Bond films, Moore appeared as the lead in the 1960s TV series the Saint, and also featured in Maverick and the Persuaders.

He is survived by his fourth wife, Danish socialite Kristina "Kiki" Tholstrup, and his three children from a previous marriage, Deborah, Geoffrey and Christian.

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Last year during a question-and-answer session at London's Southbank Centre, he admitted that, despite winning the coveted role of the martini-swirling spy, one part he wished he had landed was Lawrence of Arabia.

He said: "I remember Bob Baker and I going to see Lawrence of Arabia and coming out both being very depressed and saying 'We might as well give up the business', because they had made the best movie that had ever been made."

The debonair star, who added a distinct light-hearted touch to the 007 role, also admitted that, while he thought Sir Sean Connery had been the greatest Bond, fans were "lucky" to have the current star of the franchise, Daniel Craig.

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He said: "I think that Sean was obviously the great Bond.

"He was obviously the right person, he brought the right personality to the performance, otherwise Bond would not have gone on past the first six that he did. He was a tremendous Bond.

"Today, I think we're very lucky to have Daniel Craig because he is quite extraordinary. I always say that Sean looked like a killer - but Daniel Craig would finish it off.

"When I saw Casino Royale, I thought that Daniel Craig did more action in the first seven minutes than I did in seven movies."

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While arguably best known for his role as 007, Sir Roger will also be remembered for his work in TV's The Saint in the 1960s.

He once joked of his role as Simon Templar in the spy thriller series, which he also produced: "When I was doing The Saint on television I had two expressions; as Bond I've managed to work up to four."