Veteran English comedy writer and performer Barry Cryer has died aged 86.
Cryer “died peacefully, in good spirits and with his family around him” on Tuesday afternoon at Northwick Park Hospital in Harrow, north-west London.
During his seven-decade career, Cryer appeared on stage, screen and radio and penned jokes for countless household names.
He had a long-running partnership with Sir David Frost, with their collaborations including The Frost Report on the BBC.
The Leeds-born performer was also a panellist on BBC Radio 4’s I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue for more than four decades.
He wrote for legends of British comedy, including Ronnie Barker, Ronnie Corbett, Sir Billy Connolly and Tommy Cooper.
In 2018, he was handed a lifetime achievement award for his comedy career by the British Music Hall Society.
His family paid tribute, recalling his “gift for friendship and a genius for putting people at their ease”.
A statement from his family said: “Dad was a talented comedy writer and comedian in a particularly golden vintage. Incidentally he never really liked the terms ‘comedy writer’ or ‘comedian’ instead preferring hack and entertainer, and always thought the term ‘national treasure’ meant he’d just been dug up.
“He was, in his words, arrogant in his humility. He had a gift for friendship (as anyone who still has a landline will testify) and a genius for putting people at their ease. Oh yes, and he made many people laugh. A lot. Over many years.
“Baz was, firstly, a loving husband to Terry for nearly 60 years and a gentle father to Tony, David, Jack, Bob.”
His family said a funeral would take place in the coming weeks and would be followed later by a “more inclusive” memorial service.
They also asked for messages, photos or videos to be submitted to a book of condolence, details of which would also be announced on Twitter.
“He leaves behind him a life of fun, joy, love and silliness and we’ll all be doing our best to maintain that legacy. He regularly told fantastic stories and anecdotes about others – the many brilliant and fascinating people he’d worked with and knew – but as he was loved and admired by to many – why don’t we start telling some stories about Baz and his brilliant and mischievous life and career?,” the statement said.
“And to end, as Dad would say, ‘Same time tomorrow?”
Broadcaster and author Gyles Brandreth, a close friend of Cryer, was among those paying tribute.
Sharing a photo of them together on Twitter, he said: “Here we are only a few weeks ago. Baz was just the loveliest guy: funny & generous.
“He’d worked with everybody & everybody he worked with liked him. I shall miss his happy company so much – & his regular phone calls: he gave you a gem of a joke with each one.”
He added: “Wherever Barry went he brought laughter with him – even to memorial services. And he went to lots because he’d worked with everyone!
“He was generous about everyone: a great mentor & friend.”
Dame Esther Rantzen paid tribute to Cryer as an "encyclopaedia of humour".
Cryer was born in Leeds and studied English literature at the University of Leeds.
He was made an OBE in 2001 and was also a member of the entertainment charity the Grand Order of Water Rats. – PA