World of comedy pays tribute to ‘inimitable gag-cannon’ Barry Cryer

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Barry Cryer arrives at the Radio Academy Arqiva Hall of Fame Fellowship honours event at The Savoy in London (Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA) (PA Archive)
Barry Cryer arrives at the Radio Academy Arqiva Hall of Fame Fellowship honours event at The Savoy in London (Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA) (PA Archive)

Dame Esther Rantzen has joined the world of comedy in paying tribute to Barry Cryer following his death aged 86.

Cryer’s family said in a statement that he had died “peacefully, in good spirits and with his family around him”.

Rantzen, who first worked with Cryer in the 60s, told the PA news agency: “In a way Barry was a genius, but so unassuming that he would be astonished, I think, to be called a genius – but he was.

“His jokes were brilliantly crafted and a constant joy. He would ring his friends up with his latest parrot jokes or with some reflection on what was happening. He was so generous with his wit.

“He was just delightful. He worked on That’s Life! for some time. But I worked with him in many different contexts. He did a lot of charity events. He was just a lovely human being as well as being very, very funny.”

She added: “He was like an encyclopaedia of humour and unfortunately recently I had met him at funerals, because alas, when you get into your eighth decade that tends to happen.

“But it was always a pleasure to sit next to him because he would always cheer you up.”

Comedian Jack Dee host of I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue which Cryer had also featured in and previously hosted, tweeted: “British comedy just lost its greatest curator and archivist. Thoughts are with Terry and all his family. RIP Baz. “There was this parrot……..”

The BBC’s director-general Tim Davie said Cryer was a “uniquely funny, talented and generous person”.

In a statement, Davie said: “He was an incredible comedian and writer. If you heard or saw a great sketch there was always a good chance Barry was behind it. He worked with every major showbiz legend because everyone wanted to work with him.

“Barry will be hugely missed by his many friends at the BBC and the wider public.”

Comedian David Mitchell said he was “so proud” to have known the veteran comic, adding in a tweet: “He was a brilliant man and a bringer of huge joy who never stopped being delighted by comedy. What an amazing life.”

Former Great British Bake Off host Sue Perkins tweeted “Oh Baz” followed by a broken hearted emoji, adding: “Rest in peace you inimitable gag-cannon. xxx #barrycryer”.

Actor and comedian Sanjeev Bhaskar said he was “devastated” at the news. He tweeted: “Devastated to hear of #BarryCryer passing, after seeing him only recently sparkling as ever on his podcast. He never missed giving a birthday phone call & joke, never missed giving encouraging comments, never missed the opportunity of telling a story.”

Cryer’s family said a funeral would take place in the coming weeks and would be followed later by a “more inclusive” memorial service.

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