Gorden Kaye: Star who played Rene in Allo Allo! dies aged 75

Gorden Kaye - the star of long-running World War II sitcom Allo Allo! - has died, aged 75.

Kaye starred as Rene Artois in all 84 episodes of the BBC series, which ran between 1982 and 1992, and returned for a one-off special in 2007.

He also appeared in more than 1,000 performances of the stage version of the comedy, which was set in a cafe in Nazi-occupied France.

Kaye's cafe owner and reluctant resistance figure became a much-loved comedy character.

In the show, he risked his life to aid the French resistance and stay clear of occupying Germans, while fending off suspicion from his wife Edith, played by Carmen Silvera.

A long-running joke had Rene hiding a painting called The Fallen Madonna With The Big Boobies, inside a sausage.

Former co-star Vicki Michelle, who played Yvette Carte-Blanche in the show, said it was a privilege to work alongside Kaye.

She told Sky News: "He was just an amazing actor, and he brought Rene to life and it was a privilege to have worked with him for 10 years.

"I think when you're working with people... they become part of your family, and I learnt so much from him, I learnt all of his little nuances when he was performing, the way he worked the camera, when we did stage together.

"I learnt so much from him so I will be very grateful to Gordon. It was just such a shock to hear that he passed away."

Shane Allen, the controller of BBC comedy commissioning, paid tribute to "a terrific comic actor whose signature role, Rene Artois, earned his place in the comedy hall of fame".

"He was instrumental in making 'Allo 'Allo such a long-running and well-loved series," he said. "His work lives on and thoughts are with friends and loved ones at this sad time."

He also starred in Coronation Street, playing Elsie Tanner's nephew Bernard Butler on the soap from 1969 to 1970, as well as roles in It Ain't Half Hot Mum and Are You Being Served.

His last acting credit came in BBC sketch show Revolver in 2004.

Kaye's agent confirmed he died on Monday but gave no details. His former agency confirmed he had died at a care home.

The Huddersfield-born actor suffered serious head injuries in a car accident in 1990 when a wooden billboard smashed through his windscreen during a storm.

At the time, he said: "I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time."

While he was recovering from a brain injury sustained in the accident, Kaye was photographed in hospital by two newspaper journalists who had dressed as medical staff to gain access.

The incident sparked a major debate and a court case centred on the right to privacy.

In his 1989 autobiography, he described growing up as a shy, homosexual youth. He also explained the unusual spelling of his first name was down to a typing error.