British film director Ken Russell has died at the age of 84.

The director’s son, Alex, said the Women In Love director died in hospital on Sunday.

Russell, known for his controversial films such as The Devils, began his career in television.

He appeared on Celebrity Big Brother in 2007, but walked out after two days.

Film director Michael Winner paid tribute to Russell, saying he made a “unique” contribution to British film-making.

He said: “He had been terribly, terribly ill for some time. I’ve known Ken since 1968. He was the most innovative director.

“I persuaded Oliver Reed to work with him even though Oliver said ‘I’m not a TV star, I’m a movie star’.

“His television was in a field of its own, it was absolutely extraordinary. Then he graduated to movies.”

Winner added: “He was also a very nice person. He was very cheerful and very well-meaning.

“He had a very good run even though his style of picture-making became obsolete, but that happened to everyone, Billy Wilder and Hitchcock.

“His contribution to TV and cinema in this country is absolutely unique. He took it into areas it hadn’t been before. They were riveting movies and TV because this strange mind was at work.”

Winner said Russell would be best remembered for The Devils.

“What the censor took out of The Devils was almost as long as the rest of the movie,” he added.