An unquestionable icon of British entertainment, Ronnie Corbett, has died at the age of 85.
His publicist said the star of The Two Ronnies passed away surrounded by his family.
He said: “Ronnie Corbett CBE, one of the nation’s best-loved entertainers, passed away this morning, surrounded by his loving family. They have asked that their privacy is respected at this very sad time.”
Born in Edinburgh in 1930, the diminutive comic star first worked with Ronnie Barker on The Frost Report in 1966. The duo went on to become one of the UK’s greatest mainstream acts as The Two Ronnies, which ran on the BBC from 1971 to 1987.
Ronnie with Ronnie Barker and John Cleese in the classic Class sketch on The Frost Report
Their skits, sketches and monologues – such as Fork Handles – became part of the fabric of British culture in the 70s and 80s.
Ronnie Corbett had his own unique, rambling monologue on the show.
Former BBC chairman Michael Grade spoke to the BBC about his sadness at the loss of Corbett, who he described as a ‘huge talent’.
He said the entertainer was ‘one of the all-time greats of British comedy, no question – I’m so sad for [his wife] Anne and the family – and the nation, really. We’ve lost a great friend and entertainer.
“He learned his craft the hard way. He was a master of comedy of all kinds – TV, cabaret, variety. The most wonderful man.”
Stars have been quick to pay tribute to Ronnie on social media. David Walliams tweeted a poignant, simple ‘Goodnight’.
— David Walliams (@davidwalliams) March 31, 2016
Emmerdale’s Michelle Hardwick remembered Ronnie as an important part of her (and millions’) childhood.
Sad news today about Ronnie Corbett…. Loved watching The Two Ronnies when I was growing up… #rip
— Michelle Hardwick (@ChelleHardwick) March 31, 2016
Jack Whitehall paid tribute to his brilliance.
RIP Ronnie Corbett, what a brilliant and funny man he was.
— Jack Whitehall (@jackwhitehall) March 31, 2016
Gary Lineker hailed him as a ‘national treasure’.
Another national treasure leaves us. A brilliant comedian and a genuinely lovely bloke. RIP Ronnie Corbett.
— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) March 31, 2016
Ricky Gervais called on Ronnie’s comic genius for his BBC comedy extras and tweeted:
RIP the lovely, funny legend Ronnie Corbett. It was an absolute honour & joy to have known him.
— Ricky Gervais (@rickygervais) March 31, 2016