Emmerdale legend Paula Tilbrook, who played village busybody Betty Eagleton, has died at the age of 89 years.
Actress Paula Tilbrook, who is well known and beloved for playing Emmerdale stalwart Betty Eagleton, has died. Paula, aged 89, actually died on 1st December 2019, however it was only revealed in The Stage today.
In a statement, Paula’s loved ones said: “The family of Paula Tilbrook are sad to confirm the peaceful passing of their beloved Paula. She died of natural causes in December at home with her loved ones beside her. The family respectfully requests privacy at this difficult time.”
Paula joined Emmerdale as the ex-Tiller Girl and former flame of gamekeeper Seth Armstrong who returned home in 1994, effortlessly establishing Betty Eagleton as an iconic, straight-talking northerner who quickly moved to the centre of many of the soap’s most popular storylines. When she retired in 2015, Inside Soap magazine said of her final episode: “Funny, feisty and smart as a whip. They don’t make ’em like actress Paula Tilbrook any more!”
Despite Betty departed the village in 2015, after it was announced that Paula would be retiring, she made a brief return later that year in December to appear in the Christmas episodes.
It was the romance of Betty and Seth (Stan Richards) that won over a legion of fans – one of the show’s first ‘soap super couples’. The characters visited Australia over Christmas, having planned to stay there for a good few months. However, Betty returned, expecting Seth to follow in the holidays. Sadly, he never did as Seth died on the plane ride home. This was done as Stan Richards had died in real-life.
As far as the rest of the villagers are concerned, Betty still resides in Australia. She last got in touch to inform Laurel Thomas that her father-in-law Sandy Thomas had died. After visiting for the funeral, Betty offered Sandy’s old apartment to Laurel’s dad Doug Potts who takes the offer and decides to move there.
A spokesperson for Emmerdale added: “We are saddened to hear of the passing of our much loved colleague, Paula Tilbrook. Paula was at the heart of Emmerdale for many years and she will be greatly missed by all who worked with her and by the fans of her character, Betty. We have lost a great talent and a wonderful friend but she will forever live in the memories of those lucky enough to have known her.”
Before her 21-year stint on Emmerdale, Paula had appeared on Coronation Street in several minor roles, as well as sitcoms such as Open All Hours, South of the Border and Last of the Summer Wine, as well as films like Me You and Him, Walter, Walter and June, Yanks, A Private Function and The Final Frame.