After being wed for 22 years Colin Firth and his wife, Italian film producer Livia Giuggioli, have announced they are separating.

The pair shared the news yesterday in a joint statement from their publicists.

"Colin and Livia Firth have separated," it read. "They maintain a close friendship and remain united in their love for their children. They kindly ask for privacy. There will be no further comment."

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The pair have two sons, Luca and Matteo, and the family lived in London and Italy. Two years ago it was revealed that Firth had applied for dual UK and Italian citenship while Giuggioli had applied for a British passport.

The couple married in 1997, in what was the actor's second marriage.

Firth is most famous for his roles in rom-coms like the ever-popular Love, Actually, the Bridget Jones Diary franchise and the Oscar winning bio-pic The King's Speech.

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