Ronnie Corbett refused to let friends see his suffering in the final weeks of his battle with motor neuron disease.

Close pal Jimmy Tarbuck, 76, fought back tears yesterday as he talked about the legendary Scottish funnyman.

TV entertainer Tarby told the Sun: “I knew exactly what he had. And he didn’t want to see you. He said ‘I don’t want to see you like this’, but I’d speak to him on the phone.”

The much-loved star died aged 85 on Thursday after a secret year-long battle with the disease.

Ronnie, famous for The Two Ronnies comedy series, had been due to recreate his armchair comedy monologues for the BBC. Despite being unwell for some time, he had signed a deal with BBC Radio to reprise his rambling stories from The Two Ronnies.

Radio 4 comedy commissioning editor Sioned Wiliam said: “It’s incredibly sad it now won’t happen. He was so unique.”

The monologues were a hallmark of The Two Ronnies which ran from 1971 to 1987 and also starred Ronnie Barker.

They featured him trying to tell a simple joke but constantly distracting himself by relating other incidents.

Ronnie fell into a coma on Tuesday and was taken from his London home to hospital — where he died with wife Anne, 82, and daughters Emma, 49, and Sophie, 48, at his bedside.

Anne revealed her husband, who also starred in long-running TV comedy Sorry!, was diagnosed in March last year. She said: “No one could have been more courageous.”