The actor Robert Hardy, star of TV series All Creatures Great and Small, has died aged 91, his family has said.

With his instantly recognisable voice and British bulldog manner, Robert Hardy enjoyed a distinguished acting career which spanned seven decades.

By the time he endeared himself to television audiences in the BBC’s All Creatures Great and Small, he had already carved out a reputation as one of Britain’s most versatile actors.

Hardy, from Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, started his acting career at the age of 24 with the Shakespeare Memorial Company in Stratford, later the Royal Shakespeare Company, starring in a stage adaptation of Coriolanus.

Chris Rankin, who played Percy Weasley in the Harry Potter films, described Hardy as “a very kind man who told wonderful stories”.

The British Film Institute also posted a message in response to the “Sad” news, while Magdalen College, w Hardy attended university, also paid tribute to him on Twitter.

One of Hardy’s earliest TV roles was portraying Cassio in Othello in 1955.

Nick Betts, director of scripted production at BBC Studios, said Hardy was an “Iconic British actor of stage and screen”.

Hardy believed actors were born rather than made, telling the BBC’s Desert Island Discs his ambitions were formed when he appeared as a page boy at a wedding.

Robert Hardy