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Comedian and BBC Radio 4 'I'm Sorry I haven't a Clue' stalwart Barry Cryer dies at the age of 86 

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English writer, comedian and actor Barry Cryer, once dubbed the ‘King of Comedy’, has died at the age of 86.

The legendary funny man was a stalwart on BBC Radio 4’s popular panel game ‘I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue’, first featuring as a host in 1972 and a panelist for almost 50 years.

He wrote for many household showbiz names, including Sir Bruce Forsyth, Sir David Frost, The Two Ronnies and Morecambe and Wise.  

Cryer, who wrote some of his best work alongside John Junkin in the 1970s, also worked alongside radio DJ and television presenter Kenny Everett. 

A supremely talented writer and comedian, he was made an OBE in 2001 for services to comedy. In a BBC article reporting on the honour, Cryer was titled the ‘King of Comedy’.

Today tributes have flooded in for the star, who is originally from Leeds and had been married to his wife Terry for almost 60 years.

In a statement released today, his family said: ‘He had a gift for friendship and a genius for putting people at their ease. Oh yes, and he made many people laugh. A lot.’ 

English writer, comedian and actor Barry Cryer (pictured here in 1979) has died at the age of 86

English writer, comedian and actor Barry Cryer (pictured here in 1979) has died at the age of 86 

The comedian (pictured here with his wife Terry in 2009) was a stalwart on BBC Radio 4's popular panel game'I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue'

The comedian (pictured here with his wife Terry in 2009) was a stalwart on BBC Radio 4’s popular panel game ‘I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue’

Cryer, who wrote some of his best work alongside John Junkin in the 1970s, also worked alongside radio DJ and television presenter Kenny Everett

A talented writer and comedian, he was made an OBE in 2001 for services to comedy. In a BBC article reporting on the honour, Cryer was titled the'King of Comedy'

Cryer, who wrote some of his best work alongside John Junkin in the 1970s, also worked alongside radio DJ and television presenter Kenny Everett. A talented writer and comedian, he was made an OBE in 2001 for services to comedy. In a BBC article reporting on the honour, Cryer was titled the ‘King of Comedy’.

Today tributes have flooded in for the star, who is originally from Leeds and who was made an OBE in 2001 (pictured here with his family) for services to comedy

Today tributes have flooded in for the star, who is originally from Leeds and who was made an OBE in 2001 (pictured here with his family) for services to comedy

Close friend, the actor, broadcaster, writer and former politician Gyles Brandreth, today wrote on Twitter: ‘Baz was just the loveliest guy: funny and generous. 

‘He’d worked with everybody & everybody he worked with liked him.  shall miss his happy company so much – & his regular phone calls: he gave you a gem of a joke with each one.’

Actor, comedian, screenwriter and director Mark Gattis also paid tribute, he wrote: ‘Barry Cryer was the real deal. An incredibly funny man who worked with – and wrote for – the giants of comedy. 

‘Yet he remained forever curious and delighted by whatever was fresh and original.

‘Kind, encouraging, generous and a one off. Goodbye, Cheeky.’

Presenter Piers Morgan today wrote: ‘RIP Barry Cryer, 86. Such a warm, funny and talented man. A giant of British comedy. Thanks for all the laughs, Barry.’

Fellow Comedy legend Stephen Fry wrote: ‘Such sad news, one of the absolute greats of British comedy, Barry Cryer, is no more. 

‘A glorious, gorgeous, hilarious and gifted writer and performer who straddled all the comic traditions. Universally beloved … farewell, Baz.’

Food critic Jay Rayner, posting on Twitter, added: ‘Farewell to the great Barry Cryer. A comic genius and a very, very lovely man. 

‘Had a habit of phoning people on their birthday and telling them a joke. It was always a good one. But then his jokes always were.’

Born in Leeds in March 1935, Cryer was educated at Leeds Grammar school before going on to study English Literature at the Yorkshire city’s university.

While at university he got his foot in the door in the world of entertainment by getting work at Leeds City Varieties Theatre.

There he helped with the BBC’s long-running entertainment show The Good Old Days.

He left university after a year and travelled to London, where he began at the bottom of the bill at the famous Windmill Theatre in Soho.

Born in Leeds in March 1935, Cryer was educated at Leeds Grammar school before going on to study English Literature at the Yorkshire city's university

While at university Cryer (pictured right with comedian Willie Rushton) got his foot in the door in the world of entertainment by getting work at Leeds City Varieties Theatre.

Born in Leeds in March 1935, Cryer (pictured left in 1973) was educated at Leeds Grammar school before going on to study English Literature at the Yorkshire city’s university. While at university Cryer (pictured right with comedian Willie Rushton) got his foot in the door in the world of entertainment by getting work at Leeds City Varieties Theatre

Cryer (pictured here in 1976) got his first big writing break penning sketches for The Jimmy Logan Show, becoming head writer with an occasional stage role for the London nightclub of singer Danny La Rue

Cryer (pictured here in 1976) got his first big writing break penning sketches for The Jimmy Logan Show, becoming head writer with an occasional stage role for the London nightclub of singer Danny La Rue 

In 1972, Cryer (pictured) joined the new BBC Radio 4 show'I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue', originally hosting the panel game show, before becoming a regular panelist - a role he continued right up until his death

Cryer (pictured here in 1993) also worked alongside Kenny Everett, even making a cameo appearance as a police officer in the 1984 spoof horror the Bloodbath at the House of Death

In 1972, Cryer (pictured left) joined the new BBC Radio 4 show ‘I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue’, originally hosting the panel game show, before becoming a regular panelist – a role he continued right up until his death. Cryer (pictured right here in 1993) also worked alongside Kenny Everett, even making a cameo appearance as a police officer in the 1984 spoof horror the Bloodbath at the House of Death. 

A writer who preferred working alongside a partner, Cryer (pictured centre right in 1983 while holding up Shirley Williams of the Social Democratic Party) teamed up with John Junkin for much of the 1970s, where the pair helped write the Morecombe and Wise show during its BBC hey-day

A writer who preferred working alongside a partner, Cryer (pictured centre right in 1983 while holding up Shirley Williams of the Social Democratic Party) teamed up with John Junkin for much of the 1970s, where the pair helped write the Morecombe and Wise show during its BBC hey-day

Unwell with eczema, and having faced a number of spells in hospital, he was let go from his contract at the Windmill

Cryer chose to focus mainly on writing – something he could do even when suffering eczema attacks, which he did for the next eight year

Unwell with eczema, and having faced a number of spells in hospital, he was let go from his contract at the Windmill. Cryer chose to focus mainly on writing – something he could do even when suffering eczema attacks, which he did for the next eight year.

But, unwell with eczema, and having faced a number of spells in hospital, he was let go from his contract. 

Cryer chose to focus mainly on writing – something he could do even when suffering eczema attacks, which he did for the next eight year.

He got his first big writing break penning sketches for The Jimmy Logan Show, becoming head writer with an occasional stage role for the London nightclub of singer Danny La Rue.

It was here he was spotted by legendary television host, journalist and comedian Sir David Frost. He helped write variety special ‘A Degree of Frost’ alongside Monty Python star John Cleese.

Frost used Cryer on a number of subsequent shows, which established Cryer as a star writer in the 1970s. 

Cryer (pictured here in 2009) got his first big writing break penning sketches for The Jimmy Logan Show, becoming head writer with an occasional stage role for the London nightclub of singer Danny La Rue

Cryer (pictured here in 2009) got his first big writing break penning sketches for The Jimmy Logan Show, becoming head writer with an occasional stage role for the London nightclub of singer Danny La Rue

It was here he was spotted by legendary television host, journalist and comedian Sir David Frost. Cryer (pictured here centre right in 2002) helped write variety special'A Degree of Frost' alongside Monty Python star John Cleese.

It was here he was spotted by legendary television host, journalist and comedian Sir David Frost. Cryer (pictured here centre right in 2002) helped write variety special ‘A Degree of Frost’ alongside Monty Python star John Cleese.

A writer who preferred working alongside a partner, he teamed up with John Junkin for much of the 1970s, where the pair helped write the Morecombe and Wise show during its BBC hey-day.

During this time he also hosted the ITV show Jokers Wild, a Mock the Week style panel show where two teams of three comedians each played for points by telling jokes on a certain subject chosen by the host.

In 1972 he joined the new BBC Radio 4 show ‘I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue’, originally hosting the panel game show, before becoming a regular panelist – a role he continued right up until his death.

He also worked alongside Kenny Everett, even making a cameo appearance  as a police officer in the 1984 spoof horror the Bloodbath at the House of Death. 

In later life he wrote an autobiography, ‘You Won’t Believe This But…’, as well as a book of miscellaneous anecdotes, ‘Pigs Can Fly’. 

In 2005 he toured the UK with ‘Barry Cryer: The First Farewell Tour’, and in 2008 he toured with ‘Barry Cryer: Still Alive’.

In 2001 he was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire, with the BBC in their article describing him as the ‘King of Comedy’.   

In 2017, Cryer received an Honourary degree from the University of Leeds.

Away from comedy, Cryer was married to his wife Theresa, known as Terry, since 1962. 

They had four children, three sons – Tony, Dave, and Bob, and a daughter Jack. They also had seven grandchildren and, as of 2017, one great-grandchild. 

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