Barry Chuckle, one half of the comedy duo the Chuckle Brothers, has died aged 73 after a short period of ill health.
The entertainer, whose real name was Barry Elliott, starred in ChuckleVision with his brother Paul on the BBC between 1987 and 2009.
Paul said: “I’ve not just lost my brother, I’ve lost my theatrical partner of many, many years and my very best friend.”
Fans have paid tribute on Twitter, with many thanking him “for the laughs”.
Earlier this year, the brothers returned to the small screen with a new show, Chuckle Time, on Channel 5.
The star had been unwell towards the end of the new show’s filming.
Summer work was cancelled while Barry rested at his doctor’s request, but not long after his health deteriorated.
Manager Phil Dale said that the filming of their latest show had recalled the “wonderful days” of ChuckleVision.
He said: “It is with great sadness that the family announce that Barry passed away peacefully at his home surrounded by his wife Ann and all his family.
“The family would like to express their thanks to the many people who have been fans of the Chuckle Brothers and they know that they will share in part the great, great loss they feel.”
Mr Dale said Barry “leaves 50 years of laughter as his legacy, which is something very special”.
Paul’s wife Sue thanked fans for the outpouring of supportive messages.
She said: “Barry would be so happy to know how much he was loved.”
The duo – who performed for friends and family in their backyard before becoming famous – started their careers as The Chuckles on ITV talent show Opportunity Knocks in 1967.
Emma Bullimore from the TV Times said the Chuckle Brothers were “pure silliness and joy” and a “staple part of so many childhoods”.
“They had such a twinkle in their eye,” she said. “They seemed to really enjoy what they were doing and that came to the screen. Everyone felt really happy watching them.”
The Chuckle Brothers
- From Rotherham and honorary presidents of Rotherham FC
- Two older brothers, Jimmy and Brian, also formed a double-act, the Patton Brothers, and have appeared on ChuckleVision
- The Chuckles won ITV talent shows Opportunity Knocks in 1967 and New Faces in 1974
- ChuckleVision ran for 292 episodes between 1987 and 2009
- They received a special award at the Children’s Baftas in 2008.
- They recorded a charity single titled To Me, To You (Bruv) with Tinchy Stryder in aid of the African-Caribbean Leukaemia Trust in 2014
- They gave evidence at Dave Lee Travis’s 2014 indecent assault trial – they were performing in panto with him in 1990 when the alleged assault took place. Travis was later cleared
- They were seen playing a magician (Paul) and his assistant (Barry in drag) on TV comedy Benidorm in March
- They starred in a new short film about Joseph Grimaldi, the 19th Century “king of clowns”, titled The Funniest Man In The World, with Barry playing Grimaldi
Many viewers who grew up watching ChuckleVision – which ran for 292 episodes – expressed sadness on social media.
David Walliams, who performed with the Chuckle Brothers in a 2013 Comic Relief sketch, said they were “dazzling talents” who were the “last link” to British music hall tradition.
Comedian and actor Jack Whitehall said he had been “obsessed” with the Chuckle brothers when he was younger.
CBeebies presenter Chris Jarvis said Barry was hilarious on and off stage – but also “the kindest of gentlemen”.
And children’s presenters Dick and Dom called him “a genuine old school entertainer who simply loved performing”.
Former heavyweight champion boxer Frank Bruno said the comedian had “left happy memories for so many people”.
Rapper Tinchy Stryder, who recorded a charity single with the brothers, also paid tribute to the “funny, down to earth, super cool, talented, humble legend”.
“A true Variety great,” wrote comedian and presenter Les Dennis, who appeared on ITV’s New Faces in the same year as The Chuckles, as they were then known.
Paddy McGuinness, star of Phoenix Nights and Take Me Out, called Barry “one of my favourites from my childhood years, teenage years and as an adult!”
“Another piece of our childhood gone”, tweeted broadcaster Tony Shepherd, while one woman said: “RIP Barry Chuckle. As a kid I absolutely loved getting in from school and watching #Chucklevision.”
Rotherham United said the comedian was a “friend” as well as a fan and life president of the club.
Bafta, which gave the Chuckle Brothers a special award in 2008, tweeted: “We’re deeply saddened to learn of the death of Barry Elliot, known as Barry Chuckle.”
And the BBC, which aired ChuckleVision, said Barry will be “treasured as one of the iconic children’s entertainers of a generation”.
Alice Webb, the director of BBC Children’s, said: “Off air, Barry was a gentleman and consummate professional, respected by all who worked with him, he will be sorely missed.”
Other fans called him a “staple of my childhood” and “one of my childhood heroes”.
Senior British prosecutor Nazir Afzal said “a part of both mine and my children’s childhood passes on”, while politicians including Labour’s Angela Rayner shared tributes.
Comedian Arron Crascall tweeted that he had met Barry and shouted out the first half of the Chuckle Brothers catchphrase “to me, to you” only to hear the retort, “Shut up!”