Emmerdale is saying goodbye to one of its longest-serving cast-members, Paula Tilbrook. The 85-year-old actress, who plays Betty Eagleton on the ITV soap, has confirmed her retirement after 21 years.
Paula first appeared in Emmerdale in April 1994. She has already filmed her final scenes as village gossip Betty, which will be aired in mid-May.
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Paula Tilbrook is bowing out of Emmerdale after 21 years
"I have been at Emmerdale for 21 years and I've loved every moment," she said, after finishing her last day on set. "Today is both the saddest and happiest day of my life. Happy because I've got everyone here with me, but the sad part is I'm leaving. But there is a great atmosphere and it's nice to go out on a high."
Katie Oates, Emmerdale's series producer, added: "It's impossible to overstate how much everyone at Emmerdale will miss Paula. In Betty, she's created a British television icon: someone who has lit up our screens and touched our hearts.
"Off screen, she is an integral part of the Emmerdale family: an inspiration to those she works with, as well as a fabulous raconteur and hilarious storyteller. We are sad to lose her from the programme but wish her the happy retirement she so deserves."
Paula Tilbrook has played vllage gossip Betty Eagleton since April 1994
Paula will leave having made her mark as the longest-running current female character on Emmerdale, and the sixth-longest in the whole history of the soap.
Known as the village gossip, Betty was always the first to be in the know about something. In her very first scene, she appeared in the Woolpack ordering a sweet sherry. As an old friend of Seth Armstrong, she then decided to put down her roots in Emmerdale village – and even fell prey to wheeler dealer Eric Pollard.
Seth proposed at the end of her first year, but the marriage never took place as the couple decided to postpone the wedding indefinitely.