Norman Painting – who played Philip Archer in The Archers since the programme's trial run in 1950 – has died aged 85. He also helped script the programme, writing 1,198 scripts in all.
Mark Thompson, BBC Director-General, said: "I am deeply saddened to hear of Norman's death. He rightly became renowned for his portrayal of Phil Archer, a role he created, but he was also a gifted writer and talented versatile broadcaster.”
Vanessa Whitburn, Editor of The Archers, said: "Norman was simply the consummate professional. He has played Phil since The Archers trial run at Whitsun in 1950.
"Norman always wanted to remain working on The Archers until he died – and I am delighted and proud of him that he achieved his wish."
Mark Damazer, Controller, Radio 4, added: "Norman Painting was for almost 60 years a central figure in one of Radio 4's hallmark programmes. His success was not due merely to longevity but to his passion for The Archers and his skill as a radio actor. He loved the medium.
"He will be deeply missed by the rest of The Archers team and his millions of fans."