Stars pay tribute to Benidorm's Kenny Ireland, who has died aged 68

Benidorm star Kenny Ireland (opens in new tab), who played incorrigible swinger Donald Stewart in the hit ITV comedy, has succumbed to cancer at the age of 68.

The versatile Scottish actor and director had starred in Benidorm since its launch in 2007.

His co-star Danny Walters (Tiger Dyke) tweeted: "Very sad news about Kenny Ireland (Donald Stewart) Thanks for teaching me how to play backgammon. RIP Kenny x"

Benidorm creator Derren Litten tweeted: "Terribly sad news guys. Kenny Ireland lost his very long battle with cancer this morning. Miss you so much already dear friend. X"

Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond wrote: "Sad to hear Kenny Ireland - a great actor & former director - has passed away. Deepest condolences to his family and friends."

Besides Benidorm, Kenny had a long and varied career on TV and the stage – he was part of Victoria Wood's fictional rep company in the BBC series Victoria Wood As Seen On TV and was director at Edinburgh's Royal Lyceum Theatre for more than a decade until 2003.

He was written out of the latest series of Benidorm in June so he could concentrate on his cancer treatment.

Patrick McLennan is a London-based journalist and documentary maker who has worked as a writer, sub-editor, digital editor and TV producer in the UK and New Zealand. His CV includes spells as a news producer at the BBC and TVNZ, as well as web editor for Time Inc UK. He has produced TV news and entertainment features on personalities as diverse as Nick Cave, Tom Hardy, Clive James, Jodie Marsh and Kevin Bacon and he co-produced and directed The Ponds, which has screened in UK cinemas, BBC Four and is currently available on Netflix. 

An entertainment writer with a diverse taste in TV and film, he lists Seinfeld, The Sopranos, The Chase, The Thick of It and Detectorists among his favourite shows, but steers well clear of most sci-fi.