Mark Farmer dead
Actor Mark Farmer, seen here in the 1983 TV show Johnny Jarvis BBC

The actor Mark Farmer, a familiar face to viewers of 1980s television, has died at 53 following a short battle with cancer.

Farmer first came to the public's attention when he was cast as part of the original crew for the BBC's iconic school-based drama Grange Hill. He played Gary Hargreaves, the elder brother of the impressionable Cathy, and was part of the show's first three seasons.

Having made a name for himself, Farmer was then given a starring role as the titular Johnny Jarvis in the series of the same name. Broadcast in 1983, the show dealt with the children of the Thatcher generation and the lack of opportunities given to them upon leaving school. Along with the traditional coming-of-age story, the show also dealt with the drug addiction and race riots of the early 1980s.

Farmer's last role of note was as Justin James in Minder. Joining in series 5, James was a wide boy who was eager to follow in the footsteps of the dodgy geezer himself, Arthur Daley. He left the show after season 7.

After leaving the acting trade, Farmer returned to his first love of music and even served as guitarist for ska legends Bad Manners for a while.

Tribute was paid online by fans after the news broke:

Actor Mark Farmer, of Johnny Jarvis, Relative Strangers, Minder fame has passed away. Here w Matthew Kelly. RIP.

— Dene Kernohan (@Dene71) April 26, 2016

R.I.P. Mark Farmer a.k.a. #GrangeHill's Gary Hargreaves #JohnnyJarvis #Minder #80s #80sTV #forgotten80s

— Sarah Lewis (@MyEighties) April 26, 2016

It is with great sadness that we report that Mark Farmer aka Gary Hargreaves died earlier today. RIP

— Grange Hill (@hill_grange) April 26, 2016