Actor and star of Emmerdale Farm

Born: May 23, 1945;

Died: November 16, 2018

ANDREW Burt, who has died of cancer aged 73, was in at the start of Emmerdale, playing Jack Sugden, the moody prodigal son who inherits the eponymous farm in episode one of the soap that was conceived to fill a twice-weekly afternoon slot in the ITV schedules in 1972 when government restrictions on broadcasting hours were relaxed.

Jack had supposedly fallen out with his father Jacob and moved away years before. Although Jacob’s wife Annie was still around and Jack’s younger brother Joe worked on the farm, Jacob bequeathed it to Jack, who was a novelist in London, because he knew it would force him to return.

Burt, who honed his acting skills with Perth Theatre, appeared in more than 100 episodes of the soap, originally entitled Emmerdale Farm, between 1972 and 1976 before deciding he wanted to take on other challenges. Rather than kill him off, the producers brought in another actor Clive Hornby, who played Jack in more than 1000 episodes between 1980 and his death in 2008.

The soap moved to a primetime evening slot and with an abbreviated title, and some rather more sensational storylines, became a major rival to Coronation Street and EastEnders.

Meanwhile Burt went on to star in two BBC Sunday teatime family series. He played the king in The Legend of King Arthur (1979) and was the legendary traveller in Gulliver in Lilliput (1982) as well as making guest appearances on dozens of other shows and continuing to work in theatre before retiring from acting and taking up a second career counselling people with stress-related conditions.

The son of a psychiatrist, he was born in Wakefield in Yorkshire in 1945. His father died when he was very young. At the end of his school days he joined an engineering company in Birmingham and intended to develop a career as a salesman, but he was also involved in amateur drama, which soon prompted a change of mind and a change of direction.

He trained at the Rose Bruford drama school in London, took a degree in English and worked in repertory theatre with various companies, including Perth.

After his stint on the farm, he played Lieutenant Peek in the series Warship (1976-77), graduating to captain of HMS Beagle, the real-life character Robert FitzRoy, in the BBC series The Voyage of Charles Darwin (1978).

He appeared in the 1983 Doctor Who storyline Terminus, with Peter Davison as the Doctor, and the two were reunited on Campion (1989-90), on which Burt was Chief Inspector Stanislaus Oates and Davison had the title role of the aristocratic sleuth who solves mysteries with the help of his ex-burglar servant.

Burt also provided the “Voice of Radio Norwich” on I’m Alan Partridge (1997-2002), with Steve Coogan. He presented the children’s series Stepping Stones (1979-80) and his deep, authoritative voice was in demand for commercials.

He appeared in guest roles in many other shows, including Blake’s Seven (1980), Juliet Bravo (1980), Tales from the Unexpected – twice in 1981 and 1988, Angels (1983), The Gentle Touch (1984), Bergerac, in two different roles in 1985 and 1990, Poirot (1991), The Bill, in three roles from 1991 to 1995. London’s Burning (1992), Casualty (1993), Heartbeat (1997) and New Tricks (2003). He was not married and did not have children.