Coronation Street regular Bill Tarmey, who portrayed Jack Duckworth for three decades on the popular British soap, has died at the age of 71.

Tarmey died Friday in Tenerife, after having been in poor health for several years, according to a statement from his family. He left the show in 2010.

The Coronation Street cast, crew and production team released a statement saying they were "devastated" to learn of Tarmey's death.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with Bill's wife and soulmate Ali and their family at this very sad time."

Raised in Manchester, the former labourer and nightclub singer was among the longest-running characters on Coronation Street. He first landed on the show as an extra in the late 1970s.

His loveable rogue of a character was married to the nagging Vera, portrayed by Liz Dawn.

The ailing actress left the show two years before Tarmey, with her character dying. For his final scenes in 2010, however, she returned to film a moving death sequence with him.

In real life, Tarmey and his wife, Alison, were married for 50 years.

He is survived by his wife and two children, Carl and Sara.

With files from The Associated Press