THE sudden death on Monday of TV and film actor Barry Foster has shocked many in Haslemere, where he had made his home for the past 17 years.

Mr Foster (74) died in London of a heart attack, after being taken ill on stage on Friday.

He had been appearing in the West End production of the comedy Art at the Whitehall Theatre, with Nigel Havers.

Mr Foster lived with his wife Judith in Fernden Lane. Married in 1955, Mrs Foster, whose stage name is Judith Shergold was a former singer in West End musicals.

The couple had two married daughters, Joanna and Miranda, a son Jason, and three grandchildren.

Mrs Foster said her husband would be remembered for his Òebullient personality and sense of humour.Ó

Born in Nottingham, after leaving school Barry Foster worked in a research laboratory for EMI before turning to drama school and the stage.

His first break came in 1952 when he played a young oil executive in the television series Mogul, before returning to the stage and films, appearing in RyanÕs Daughter. In 1972 he took the character of a killer in the Alfred Hitchcock thriller Frenzy.

In 1972 he took on his best known role as the Amsterdam detective Piet Van der Valk.

Since then he had worked almost non-stop and when not working took took an active part in the local community.

He took up an invitation to attend a presentation at the Royal Surrey Hospital and one of his last local appearances was at Woolmer Hill School late last year, when he was guest of honour at the the schoolÕs annual speech day.

Mrs Foster said that among the local organisations he took a keen interest in and supported was the Haslemere-based Kings World Trust which provide a future for homeless children in India and the Haslemere-based support group for Children Chernobyl Lifeline.

ÒBarry also helped with the St. Bartholomews Church Christmas lunches at The Link last year, which he enjoyed doing very much,Ó said Mrs Foster.

A close family friend Tony Douglas from Chiddingfold said Mr Foster was Òan extremely loyal and close friend.Ó

With Mrs Foster who has been a member of the Chiddingfold-based ÒYour Very Own Music Hall CompanyÓ since 1995, Mr Douglas said that Barry was a Òwonderful friend, a nice man. a very talented actor and good funÓ.

There will be a private funeral service at St. Stephens Church, Shottermill next Thursday. Flower or donations if wished to ADAPT should be made c/o GM Luff, 84 Lion Lane, Haslemere.