Stephen Fry, Rob Brydon, Joanna Lumley and many more gathered to honour one of the UK's great ever comics

Stars and fans have arrived at Westminster Abbey to pay tribute to 5ft 1in giant of comedy Ronnie Corbett.

Dame Barbara Windsor, Joanna Lumley and Jimmy Tarbuck were at the Service of Thanksgiving to celebrate the life and work of the entertainer, who died in March last year aged 85.

Dame Barbara told the Press Association: “He was very special. And we had a lot in common. We were both little.

“He always knew his lines and was there on time. He was very professional… He was a breath of fresh air.”

The Service of Thanksgiving for the Life and Work of the Ronnie Corbett at Westminster Abbey
The Service of Thanksgiving for the Life and Work of the Ronnie Corbett at Westminster Abbey (Yui Mok/PA)

 

Joanna told the Press Association: “The Two Ronnies were as good as it gets.

“They were at the top of the tree. They always left me in stitches and gasps of admiration.”

She said of the service: “He would be absolutely delighted and amazed.”

Ronnie Corbett
Ronnie Corbett (Matt Crossick/PA)

 

Jimmy added: “I think he would have loved to be here. He loved a party… I’m very honoured to be here.”

Readings and tributes are being given at the service, with music from the BBC Concert Orchestra and the Abbey choir.

Ronnie became a household name as part of The Two Ronnies, with the late Ronnie Barker.

Rob Brydon
Rob Brydon was also at the service (Yui Mok/PA)

 

The show – which drew up to 22 million viewers – ran for 16 years on the BBC.

The Very Reverend Dr John Hall, Dean of Westminster gave thanks to the ‘comic genius that gave immeasurable joy to countless people’ at the packed service.

He recalled Ronnie’s ‘brilliant comic timing, the twinkle in the eye’ and ‘the richness in the voice’.

And he raised chuckles when he alluded to one of the Two Ronnies’ famous lines, saying: “So it’s good day from me and it’s good day from him”.

Jimmy Tarbuck
Jimmy Tarbuck (Yui Mok/PA)

 

Some of Corbett’s most famous jokes, including Four Candles, the class satire and the Mastermind sketch were played through Westminster Abbey.

Jimmy gave a tribute, saying: “Ronnie was a poet of comedy and when a poet dies he leaves us with the laughter.”

Despite his short stature, the pint-sized star was ’10ft in comedic talent’, he said.

He joked that before his rise to fame, when Ronnie was an RAF officer, ‘he got his uniform from Mothercare’.

Ronnie Robett
Order of the service (Yui Mok/PA)

 

He said he once told him when they were meeting the Queen: “Don’t bow too low or she won’t be able to see you”, adding: “He told me to go away.”

Jimmy said he wanted to give his friend a knighthood.

“He never received a knighthood and I could never understand why,” he said. “I’m taking the opportunity to make him a knight. All those in favour say ‘Aye’.”