'Comedy great' Ronnie Corbett dies at 85


Two Ronnies star and "true great of British comedy" Ronnie Corbett has died aged 85.

Corbett was one of Britain's best-loved entertainers and his partnership with Ronnie Barker in the BBC sketch show was one of the most popular of the 1970s and 1980s.

The diminutive star died in hospital "surrounded by his loving family", his publicist said.

It is thought he had been in ill health for some time. His wife of more than 50 years, Anne Hart, said that at a celebration dinner to mark his award of a CBE in the 2012 New Year Honours he collapsed and was rushed to hospital.

BBC director-general Tony Hall said: "Ronnie Corbett was a wonderful comic and entertainer, a man of great charm and warmth who brought laughter and joy to millions. He was quite simply one of the true greats of British comedy. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this difficult time."

Sir Michael Parkinson, a close friend, told the Press Association: "He was a very easy man to love. He was a perfect companion. He was bright. He could tell good stories. He was funny. He was very rarely depressed. Anne, his wife, she'll be distraught. I mean, it was a great marriage. They've been together for many, many years, and it was a very loving partnership.

"We were just mates and I shall miss him terribly."

John Cleese, who appeared with Corbett and Barker in a famous Frost Report sketch about social class in 1966 , said on Twitter: "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."

It was on Sir David Frost's show that Corbett rose to fame and where he met Barker, leading them to forge one of Britain's best-loved TV partnerships.