Tributes have been flooding in for actor and comedian Mel Smith following his death at the age of 60.
And among the first to pay tribute was his comedy partner and co-star Griff Rhys Jones – with whom he founded the production company Talkback.
“I still can’t believe this has happened,” said Griff, who described Mel as ‘a force for life’, adding, “He had a relish for it that seemed utterly inexhaustible.”
He also called the comedian was ‘a gentleman and a scholar, a gambler and a wit,’ saying: “I will look back on the days working with him as some of the funniest times that I have ever spent.”
Meanwhile fellow comic Stephen Fry was among those paying tribute to Mel on Twitter.
“Terrible news about my old friend Mel Smith, dead today from a heart attack,” he said. “Mel lived a full life, but was kind, funny and wonderful to know.”
ITV’s directof of television Peter Fincham praised the funnyman for his ‘extraordinary natural talent,’ adding: “Life was always exciting around Mel. Being funny came naturally to him, so much so that he never seemed to give it a second thought.”
He added: “Mel and Griff were one of the great comedy acts and it’s hard to imagine that one of them is no longer with us.”
Comedian Johnny Vegas said: ‘So sorry to hear of Mel Smith’s untimely passing. My sincere condolences to his family. A great loss, a comedy legend, a nice bloke’, while Matt Lucas described him as a “brilliant writer, actor director and a lovely man too”.
Others to pay tribute included James Corden, who tweeted: “Thank you for the laughs Mel Smith. RIP.”
Meanwhile Not The Nine O’Clock News producer John Lloyd praised Mel for his comic talents.
“Mel did an extraordinary thing – he taught us all how to make comedy natural,” he said.
“He was a brilliant theatre director… Not only was he a great actor, he was a wonderful editor.”