Monty Python’s John Cleese joins tributes to his ‘old friend’ Barry Cryer

Monty Python star John Cleese has joined famous names from 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”.

The news prompted tributes from comedians, actors and broadcasters who worked with, or were influenced by, the Leeds-born writer and performer.

Cleese said: “Just heard about Barry Cryer. We worked together on the Frost Report, The 1948 Show, and Jokers Wild.

“I never met a nicer, kinder, more cheerful man. Feeling sick. RIP old friend.”

Actor Rob Brydon tweeted a photo showing him at lunch with Cryer, David Mitchell and Lee Mack, writing: “So terribly sad to hear the news.

“A great man it was my life enhancing pleasure to know and call a friend.

“This was taken at the most enjoyable story rich lunch just last year RIP #BarryCryer”

Mayor of West Yorkshire, former Labour MP and actress Tracy Brabin, tweeted: “Very sad to hear the news of Barry Cryer’s death, a true #WestYorkshire legend.

“One of comedy’s greats who will be sadly missed. Sending condolences to his family, friends and legions of fans.”

TV presenter Lorraine Kelly tweeted: “Oh bugger. He was one of the REALLY good guys. Very sad #celebratebaz”

Comedian Victoria Coren Mitchell, who is married to Peep Show actor Mitchell, shared a photo of Cryer at their wedding.

She said: “How young we all were! Except Barry, obviously.

“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.”

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.”

Fellow comic Tim Vine recalled the support Cryer had offered him.

“Just a little story about Barry Cryer’s generosity of spirit,” he said.

“After the first of my radio 4 chat shows finished the phone immediately rang. It was Barry telling me how much he enjoyed it.

“He was always encouraging and always funny. And crikey, what an amazing career. RIP Barry.”

Dame Esther 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.”

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”.

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.”

A tweet from the official Leeds Alumni account recalled Cryer’s early beginnings at the University writing: “Farewell to Barry Cryer OBE. He enrolled on an English degree @UniversityLeeds, but was spotted by an agent @CityVarieties and pursued a career in comedy before completing his studies.

“It was a joy to welcome him back to campus in 2017 to award him an honorary degree.”

Cryer was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Arts from the University in 2013 and is quoted as saying at the time: “Coming back to Leeds is like a warm bath and today is a wonderful day.

“It means a hell of a lot to me to get an honorary degree.”

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