Comedy legend Barry Cryer has died aged 86

·4-min read
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 07: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 48 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) Barry Cryer attends a Service of Thanksgiving for the Life and Work of comedian Ronnie Corbett at Westminster Abbey on June 7, 2017 in London, England. Ronnie Corbett died in March 2016 aged 85. (Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)
Barry Cryer has died. (Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)

Barry Cryer has passed away at the age of 86.

The comedy legend was known for his work on Radio 4's I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue and Just A Minute, and for writing for showbiz stars including Morecambe and Wise, The Two Ronnies and Sir Bruce Forsyth.

His family said he had “died peacefully, in good spirits and with his family around him” on Tuesday afternoon.

Tributes to Cryer have begun pouring in on social media, with Piers Morgan tweeting: "RIP Barry Cryer, 86.

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"Such a warm, funny and talented man. A giant of British comedy."

"Thanks for all the laughs, Barry," he added.

File photo dated 16/10/12 of Barry Cryer attending the BFI London Film Festival gala screening of A Liar's Autobiography, at the Empire Leicester Square in central London. Veteran comedy writer and performer Barry Cryer has died aged 86. Issue date: Thursday January 27, 2022.
The star's career spanned decades. (PA)

Stephen Fry tweeted: "Such sad news, one of the absolute greats of British comedy, Barry Cryer, is no more.

"A glorious, gorgeous, hilarious and gifted writer and performer who straddled all the comic traditions. Universally beloved … farewell, Baz."

Gyles Brandreth shared a recent photo of the pair together, saying Cryer "was just the loveliest guy: funny & generous".

"He’d worked with everybody & everybody he worked with liked him," he said.

"I shall miss his happy company so much - & his regular phone calls: he gave you a gem of a joke with each one."

Barry Cryer shows off his OBE awarded to him by the Queen at Buckingham Palace.
Barry Cryer was made an OBE in 2001. (PA)

Mark Gatiss said Cryer was "the real deal".

"An incredibly funny man who worked with - and wrote for - the giants of comedy," he said.

"Yet he remained forever curious and delighted by whatever was fresh and original. Kind, encouraging, generous and a one off. Goodbye, Cheeky."

Many colleagues and friends remembered Cryer as a man who often called up to share jokes.

Broadcaster Matthew Sweet tweeted: "If he saw or heard you on something, he'd ring up to tell you a joke or a story about a lost variety turn and laugh that bronchial laugh. If we all raise a glass to him tonight, Britain will run out of mid-price lager.”

Journalist Jay Rayner recalled: “Had a habit of phoning people on their birthday and telling them a joke. It was always a good one. But then his jokes always were.”

Writer and presenter Victoria Coren Mitchell shared a photo of Cryer at her wedding, writing: “I was so proud to have him there, and it made my father feel closer. He was a lovely lovely man and this is a very sad day.”

File photo dated 02/02/16 of Barry Cryer arriving for the Oldie of the Year awards, at Simpsons-in-the-Strand, London. Veteran comedy writer and performer Barry Cryer has died aged 86. Issue date: Thursday January 27, 2022.
Many stars have paid tribute to Barry Cryer. (PA)

Cryer got started as a variety performer when he was a student at Leeds University.

He booked some gigs after graduating but began to suffer from bouts of eczema and started to move into writing.

He went on to enjoy a career spanning several decades and wrote for, and with, some of the biggest stars in the comedy world.

Television shows he worked on include The Stanley Baster Show, It’s Tommy Cooper, The Frost Report, The Little And Large Show and The Kenny Everett Show.

Writer Barry Cryer arriving at the Grosvenor House in central London for the Television and Radio Industries Club (Tric) awards. 15/6/01: Cryer has been confered a OBE (Officer of the British Empire) in the Queen's Birthday honours list.
Barry Cryer used to call friends to tell jokes. (PA)

He was made an OBE in 2001 and four years ago he was given a lifetime achievement award by the British Music Hall Society.

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In 2013 he said he had no plans to quit his career, telling an interviewer: “In my business you don't retire - the phone stops ringing."

A statement from his family said: “Dad was a talented comedy writer and comedian in a particularly golden vintage. Incidentally he never really liked the terms ‘comedy writer’ or ‘comedian’, instead preferring hack and entertainer, and always thought the term ‘national treasure’ meant he’d just been dug up.

“He was, in his words, arrogant in his humility. He had a gift for friendship (as anyone who still has a landline will testify) and a genius for putting people at their ease. Oh yes, and he made many people laugh. A lot. Over many years.

“Baz was, firstly, a loving husband to Terry for nearly 60 years and a gentle father to Tony, David, Jack, Bob. He was a friend to their partners Jayne, Matt, Garry and Suzannah.

“As a grandfather Ruby, Tom, Evan, Archie, Hope, Martha and Connie all loved him and, more recently, Ruby’s daughter, Isobel, had the good fortune to spend time with him as a great grandfather.”

They continued: “Never lose touch with silly, he said, quoting his idol Humphrey Lyttelton – something we’ve all been very grateful for in the last few days.

“He leaves behind him a life of fun, joy, love and silliness and we’ll all be doing our best to maintain that legacy. He regularly told fantastic stories and anecdotes about others – the many brilliant and fascinating people he’d worked with and knew – but as he was loved and admired by to many – why don’t we start telling some stories about Baz and his brilliant and mischievous life and career?.

“And to end, as Dad would say, ‘Same time tomorrow?”

Watch: Veteran performer and writer Barry Cryer dies aged 86