Edward Kelsey, who played Joe Grundy on BBC Radio 4 soap The Archers for 34 years, has died at the age of 88.
The actor first appeared on air as the irascible patriarch of the Grundy clan in 1985.
Kelsey had given "one of the great performances in the history of British radio", editor Jeremy Howe said.
The actor was also known for voicing the characters Colonel K and Baron Silas Greenback on the 1980s children's animated series Danger Mouse.
Howe described his performance on The Archers as "idiosyncratic, warm, cantankerous yet generous, dripping with the Grundy magic and wonderfully funny".
He added: "Ted's Joe Grundy was a brilliant creation because Ted was a brilliant actor - and a truly lovely man and great company member.
"A cherished part of our team, I am sure all of us will agree that working with Ted was a rare privilege and he will be very much missed."
In a statement, his family said the actor "counted himself immensely lucky that he was able to enjoy a long and varied career doing the thing that he loved".
They added: "He had an insatiably curious mind and never lost his appetite for lively conversation, good company and, of course, a great storyline."
The Archers' Tim Bentinck has said it was a privilege to work with Kelsey, who he said gave an "object lesson in great radio acting."
Bentinck, who plays David Archer, said his character's next birthday would be particularly poignant because he shared his special day with Joe.
"It was a privilege and a huge pleasure to work with him when Joe and David had scenes together," said Bentick, "and they share a birthday, which, with David's 60th coming up, will be poignant as the first one David doesn't share with Joe."
He added: "He brought such life and subtlety to his performances, an object lesson in great radio acting."
Fans have paid tribute to the actor on social media.
Just devastating. Like a tree being cut down in the middle of Ambridge, albeit one riddled with ferrets and dodgy cider. Mr Kelsey made Joe Grundy one of the great series roles - it’s unthinkable not to have him in The Archers any longer. What a loss. https://t.co/FlhyC6wCiZ— Kat Brown (@katbrown) April 24, 2019
Oh no, such sad news 😢— Rhianna Dhillon (@RhiannaDhillon) April 24, 2019
Just heard the very sad news that Edward Kelsey aka Joe Grundy has died. Going to miss his character so much. He played such an important role and had wisdom to share too. Of course he was a bit of a rogue too with his farmer's lung, cider club etc. #loveable @BBCTheArchers— Jane Ward (@janeknitsart) April 24, 2019
Born in Hampshire in 1930, Kelsey attended medical school but soon swapped medicine for the performing arts, training at the Royal Academy of Music before winning a six-month contract with BBC Radio Drama.
In 1985, he took over from Haydn Jones as Joe Grundy. He recorded his final scenes earlier this month, and they will be heard on air in the coming weeks.
Kelsey's other appearances included voicing Mr Growbag in Wallace and Gromit's Curse of the Were-Rabbit, and roles in The Vicar of Dibley, Doctor Who and The Avengers.