GARY Waldhorn has died “peacefully” at the age of 78, his family said.

The Vicar Of Dibley star was best known for playing councillor David Horton in every episode of the comedy sitcom which debuted in 1994, famously locking horns with the vicar played by Dawn French.

He most recently appeared in a Christmas special, The Vicar Of Dibley In Lockdown, alongside French, who plays Geraldine Granger, and James Fleet, who plays his on-screen son Hugo.

The Vicar Of DibleyThe Vicar Of Dibley (BBC/PA)

Gary Waldhorn's family issue statement

Waldhorn’s son Josh said he “peacefully passed away” at 6.45am on Monday.

In a statement, he said: “Classically trained, it was the theatre where he truly flourished and he leaves a legacy of entertainment that saw him frequent the boards of Broadway, the West End and our living rooms on the telly!

“He leaves behind his two grandsons, Cooper and Bayley, and his son Josh. We will all miss him terribly.”

Other Vicar Of Dibley stars who have died include Emma Chambers, who starred as Alice Tinker, and Trevor Peacock, who played Jim Trott.

Waldhorn appeared in classic British TV shows such as The Sweeney, Brush Strokes, and Hotel Babylon, and even featured in comedy sketch show French And Saunders.

He also provided voiceovers for adverts including for Green Flag, Kwik Fit, Branston and Marmite.

Waldhorn was an accomplished Shakespearean actor and had performed with the Royal Shakespeare Company including in Much Ado About Nothing.

BBC Comedy said: “Gary was an incredibly talented actor who is fondly remembered by us for his numerous appearances on some of the nation’s most treasured BBC shows, and of course as councillor David Horton in The Vicar Of Dibley.

“Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this difficult time.”

Fans pay tribute to Gary Waldhorn

Fans have taken to social media to pay tribute to the actor after new broke of his passing. 

One fan worte: "RIP Gary Waldhorn. Total legend in Brush Strokes & The Vicar of Dibley. “In ‘ere you!'"

"Thank you, Gary Waldhorn, for giving us the memorable character of David Horton, that wonderful foil to the Vicar of Dibley," added another.

A third tweeted: "RIP Gary Waldhorn you made me laugh big time in the Vicar of Dibley, may you make the other angels laugh. RIP."