'Comic Genius' And 'Master' Ronnie Corbett Dies

Entertainer Ronnie Corbett has died aged 85 surrounded by his family.

A statement from his publicist said: “Ronnie Corbett CBE, one of the nation’s best-loved entertainers, passed away this morning, surrounded by his loving family.

"They have asked that their privacy is respected at this very sad time.”

Born Ronald Balfour Corbett in Edinburgh, Corbett was perhaps best known for his long association with fellow comedian Ronnie Barker in the television series The Two Ronnies.

The pair first worked together on The Frost Report in the late 1960s before developing their own show which included sketches, singing and dancing.

The show is still hailed as one of the UK’s most popular TV programmes of the late 20th century.

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Barker died in 2005 when he was 76.

Tributes from the world of entertainment have poured in for the 5 foot 1 inch-tall star.

Sir Bruce Forsyth worked with Corbett on a number of occasions and told Sky News “a great big hole has been left in showbusiness”.

“A master. He was only a little master I know, but a master of his craft,” he said.

“He was wonderful to work with. His timing was immaculate. And a dapper little man too.

"He was a character in so many ways, and was himself all of the time. You never saw Ronnie trying to be anyone else.”

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John Cleese tweeted: “Just heard about Ronnie C. So sad. He had the best timing I’ve ever watched. He was a great, kind mentor and a wonderfully witty companion.”

Hugh Laurie tweeted: “Ronnie Corbett, may he rest in peace. A beautiful, brilliant man.”

Ricky Gervais wrote: “RIP the lovely, funny legend Ronnie Corbett. It was an absolute honour & joy to have known him.”

Former BBC chairman Lord Grade told Sky News the star was working right up until his death and was a “comic genius”.

He said people loved working with the comedian and he had an “innate” feel for comedy and what would make an audience laugh.

“He never disappointed audiences, whether he was working on television or on the stage.”

Rob Brydon recorded a TV pilot with Corbett and tweeted: “So saddened that Ronnie Corbett has passed away. A truly great comedian, a great man and a great friend. He was one of the special ones. RIP.”

Dame Barbara Windsor said Corbett was a “truly brilliant all round performer”.

Jack Whitehall tweeted: “RIP Ronnie Corbett, what a brilliant and funny man he was.”

Lord Sugar said: “Sad news about Ronnie Corbett, very funny man R.I.P.”

Lenny Henry: “What sad news. Condolences to his family.”

David Walliams said: “Goodbye my friend and comedy idol #RonnieCorbett Thank you for all the laughs. It was the greatest honour to know and work with you.”

Miranda Hart said: “Having a little weep at the death of one of my heroes Ronnie Corbett. As he would say ‘Miranda you can’t look up to me’.Goodbye from me.”

Corbett was married to actress and dancer Anne Hart for over 50 years and the couple had two daughters, Emma and Sophie.

The much-loved actor was awarded a CBE in the 2012 New Year Honours for his services to charity and the entertainment industry.

His wife later revealed that, during a celebration to mark the achievement, he had collapsed in a restaurant and was rushed to hospital.