Actor Simon MacCorkindale, star of BBC television drama Casualty and the West End production of The Sound of Music, has died aged 58 after losing his battle with cancer.

Known for his role as Dr Harry Harper on the long-running hospital drama, MacCorkindale passed away at a London clinic on Thursday night with his wife, actress Susan George, by his side.

Born in Cambridge in 1952, MacCorkindale hoped to follow his father into the RAF as a child, but deteriorating eyesight meant he had to follow an alternative career, briefly considering the diplomatic service before pursuing acting.

His first professional role was in A Bequest to the Nation at the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry and he went on to make his West End debut in an acclaimed 1974 production of Pygmalion with Alec McCowen and Diana Rigg.

Following appearances in American television dramas such as Death on the Nile, MacCorkindale returned to the UK in 1986, forming his own TV production company and taking on a number of directing, writing and producing roles. Divorced from actress Fiona Fullerton, he married Susan George star of 1970s films such as Straw Dogs and Dirty Mary and Crazy Larry.

Having joined the cast of Casualty in 2002 as lead consultant Harry Harper, MacCorkindale was diagnosed with cancer in 2006, undergoing an operation to remove a section of his bowel during a two-week filming break. Although he was thought to be cured at the time, it was later revealed the disease had spread to his lungs.

A storyline allowed him to take a five-month sabbatical in 2007 and he toured in a revival of the Agatha Christie thriller The Unexpected Guest, leaving Casualty in 2008 to take the role of Andrew Wyke in a UK tour of Sleuth.

In August 2008, he made his musical debut replacing Simon Burke as Captain Von Trapp in the West End production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's The Sound of Music and remained with the show until it closed at the London Palladium in February 2009.

Paying tribute to her husband, George said: "No one could have fought this disease any harder than he did since being diagnosed four years ago. He fought it with such strength, courage and belief. Last night, he lost this battle, and he died peacefully in my arms. To me, he was simply the best of everything, and I loved him with all my heart. He will live on in me forever."