RIP Leon

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Tributes have poured in after Gogglebox star Leon Bernicoff sadly died aged 83 after battling a short illness.

The retired teacher and his wife June were one of the first couples to join the show’s cast when it launched in 2013.

He died in hospital on Saturday, Channel 4 and production company Studio Lambert said in a statement issued on behalf of his family.

They paid tribute to the television favourite’s “unique personality and sharp wit”, saying: “It is with a heavy heart that we announce the sad news that after a short illness Gogglebox’s Leon Bernicoff passed away in hospital earlier today.

“Leon and his wife June were the first members of the public to be cast for Gogglebox back in early 2013, and they soon grew to become much-loved voices during the course of the show’s 10 series to date.

“Leon’s unique personality and sharp wit endeared him to fans of the show, as he contributed fully to Gogglebox’s reputation as a programme full of warm humour and unvarnished opinion.

“To those of us that knew him personally, Leon was a man of unwavering principles who exerted a distinct paternal presence both on and off screen. He will be dearly missed by the entire Gogglebox family; cast and crew.”

And fans have been quick to share heartfelt messages of their own, with Gogglebox co-star Scarlett Moffatt Tweeting: ‘Words can’t explain what you meant to so many people. From your words of encouragement to me to the little DMs. Leon you were loved by so many. Sending my love to you and all of your family .@LeonAndJune’.

Gogglebox couple Steph and Dom also shared a heartfelt message, writing: ‘So terribly sorry to hear the dreadful news about Leon!! Our hearts are with June and his family – what a dreadful loss to us all – he was always so cheeky and adored – the show will never be the same without him #leonliveson Huge #Chinchin in his honour’.

While June also took to Twitter to thank fans for their support at this difficult time.

Leon met June in 1955 with the couple marrying five years later. The couple now share two daughters, sons-in-law and grandchildren.