EMMERDALE actress Paula Tilbrook has passed away aged 89, her family have announced.

The Salford-born soap star was best known for playing Betty Eagleston in the show for 21 years, from 1994 to 2015.

She passed away peacefully from natural causes surrounded by her family in December 2019.

Her family issued the following statement: "She died of natural causes a few months ago at home with her loved ones beside her. The family respectfully requests privacy at this difficult time."

From the early 1970s, she had long-standing associations with the Bolton Octagon and Oldham Coliseum.

In Bolton, she was seen in Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall’s All Things Bright and Beautiful (1972) and Walter Greenwood’s Saturday Night at the Crown (1983); in the latter, The Stage described her as “a Lancashire colossus [who] dominates the stage from beginning to end”.

Tilbrook also appeared in a number of Ken Dodd productions, before being cast in 11 episodes of another ITV favourite, Coronation Street, in 1973.