A Birmingham fish merchant who won an early series of ITV's New Faces before going on to become a professional actor, has died, aged 67.

Anthony Waters' stage presence, good looks, and tender rendition of How To Handle A Woman stifled the usually acid comments of Clement Freud and the rest of the New Faces panel, and drew huge applause from the studio audience of the 1970s show.

Throughout the 1970s Mr Waters achieved considerable acclaim on the amateur stage, chiefly in his role as King Arthur in the musical Camelot. He auditioned for New Faces at the Birmingham Hippodrome in the role, which he had previously played for the amateur Worcester Operatic and dramatic Society.

Born in Olton, Mr Waters attended Solihull School before going to work for his father Major Gordon Waters, at the family firm of fish merchants, J Vickerstaff and Co, which was started in 1827.

He travelled widely, developing new sources of fresh fish supplies in Scotland and Scandinavia where he acquired a lasting interest in Nordic folklore.

But it was his talent on stage for which he became renowned and how he came to the attention of Crossroads star Noele Gordon at the height of her fame as the soap's Meg Richardson.

Mr Waters was spotted by Gordon when he impressed her with his performance in Brigadoon in Worcester, and she persuaded Nuneaton entertainer Larry Grayson to offer him a part in Aladdin at the Hippodrome in 1975.

He made his debut as a professional actor playing the emperor in the pantomime, and throughout the show he led a double life.

By day he was a fish merchant, starting work at the Birmingham fish market at 5am, but in the evening he traded his grubby, striped apron for his theatrical emperor's gown, and starred alongside professional actors such as Alfred Marks.

Mr Waters went on to win the New Faces contest and TV appearances included the part of Bill Miller in Crossroads and a number of commercials.

Mr Waters struck up a firm friendship with Noele Gordon, who described him as 'my Viking', and the two were regularly seen together. Mr Waters later referred to their relationship as a deep friendship, but nothing more.

Mr Waters also became good friends with actor and comedian Alfred Marks, who starred in his own show, Alfred Marks Time, on ITV soon after the channel started, and even loaned him his 14th century oak-beamed cottage in Feckenham, Worcestershire, when he appeared in Shaw's Mrs Warren's Profession at the Swan Theatre in Worcester in 1977.

Throughout his acting career Mr Waters remained full-time chairman and managing director of J Vickerstaff and Co, and he even turned down roles outside the Midlands because of his early start at the market.

Mr Waters married and started a family comparatively late in life, the first of his three children born when he was 51. He is survived by his wife, Carole, and their daughters Harriet, aged 17, Charlotte, 15, and Emily, 13.

Shortly after his retirement from the fish market, he moved to Majorca with his family. But he kept his apartment in Birmingham city centre, a short walk from the wholesale markets, and it was there that he died of a suspected heart attack on Sunday.