Comedian Sean Lock has been remembered by friend Lee Mack as a “true original both in comedy and life”.
Lock, known for his surreal content and deadpan style, died of cancer at the age of 58, a statement from his agent Off The Kerb Productions said.
Well-known as a team captain on Jimmy Carr’s Channel 4 comedy panel show 8 Out Of 10 Cats and spin-off 8 Out Of 10 Cats Does Countdown, he also wrote and starred in BBC sitcom 15 Storeys High.
Comedian Mack said: “I’ve known this day was coming for some time, but it’s no less heart-breaking.
“A true original both in comedy and life. I will miss him so much.”
Brutal news about Sean Lock today. I loved him. I’m watching clips of him right now – laughing & crying. I’ll miss him so much.
— Jimmy Carr (@jimmycarr) August 18, 2021
Carr said he had been “laughing and crying” watching clips of the show after the news was announced.
He wrote on Twitter: “Brutal news about Sean Lock today. I loved him. I’m watching clips of him right now – laughing & crying.
“I’ll miss him so much.”
He shared a link to a YouTube video of American musician Warren Zevon singing Keep Me In Your Heart, with Carr saying: “I can’t find the words but this says it.”
— Jimmy Carr (@jimmycarr) August 18, 2021
The lyrics of the song include: “If I leave you it doesn’t mean I love you any less. Keep me in your heart for a while.”
Lock’s agent told the PA news agency the star had “died at home from cancer, surrounded by his family”.
The statement added: “Sean was one of Britain’s finest comedians, his boundless creativity, lightning wit and the absurdist brilliance of his work marked him out as a unique voice in British comedy.”
He is survived by his wife Anoushka Nara Giltsoff, with whom he had two daughters and one son.
David Baddiel shared his memories of working alongside the comedian, saying in a statement to the PA news agency: “I’m devastated to hear about the death of Sean Lock, one of the most naturally funny comics this country has ever produced.
“Myself and Rob Newman had spotted this in the early ’90s when we asked him to play the character of animal-hating naturalist Shenley Grange, and assorted other characters, on our BBC2 show, Newman And Baddiel In Pieces.
“He made all these characters effortlessly funnier than we had written them.
“He went on to perform with us on our last tour in 1993, the one that ended in Wembley Arena, and I have great – and very funny – memories of sharing a stage, and a dressing room, with him from that time.
“He was a supremely talented comedian – and a friend I remember with great fondness.”
Comedian Ross Noble said “we have lost the best of the best”.
A tweet added: “He made me laugh like few others do. A massive talent who made stand up look effortless and approached his illness in the same no nonsense way he approached life. A great loss.”
Born in Woking, Surrey, Lock left school in the early 1980s and began working on building sites but developed skin cancer, which he blamed on over-exposure to the sun. He made a full recovery and focused on a career in comedy.
One of his first professional TV appearances was in 1993, alongside Rob Newman and David Baddiel on their signature TV show Newman And Baddiel In Pieces.
He script-edited 1998 BBC Two series Is It Bill Bailey? and had his own show on BBC Radio 4 called 15 Minutes Of Misery, which was later expanded into 15 Storeys High.
The show was set in a tower block and centred on a pessimistic character called Vince (played by Lock) and his flatmate Errol (Benedict Wong).
In 2005 Lock became a regular team captain on the panel show 8 Out Of 10 Cats, a role he held for 18 series.
Between 2006 and 2007 he hosted Channel 4 series TV Heaven, Telly Hell, in which he invited celebrities to share their own selection of TV’s triumphs and tragedies.
Guests included Alan Davies, Johnny Vaughan, David Mitchell, Bill Bailey, Johnny Vegas and Nick Hancock.
Lock also appeared on panel shows including Have I Got News for You, QI and They Think It’s All Over.
Oh no, what horrible news… I think it safe to say that the best episodes of QI that I was involved with were always the ones where Sean Lock was a guest. Such complete brilliance in every comic direction. What a loss. My heart goes out to his family.
— Stephen Fry (@stephenfry) August 18, 2021
QI host Stephen Fry said: “I think it safe to say that the best episodes of QI that I was involved with were always the ones where Sean Lock was a guest.”
A tweet from Fry added: “Such complete brilliance in every comic direction. What a loss. My heart goes out to his family.”
In 2000 Lock won the gong for best live stand-up at the British Comedy Awards.
"He was a brilliant comic, he was a wonderful man – a very kind, generous friend and I miss him greatly."
— BBC Radio 5 Live (@bbc5live) August 18, 2021
Strictly winner and comedy star Bailey told BBC Radio 5 Live: “It’s a devastating loss, personally and to comedy. He was my dearest friend and we’ve known each other more than 30 years and we’ve known he was ill for some time, but even so it’s still a shock when the day comes.”