TV entertainer Ronnie Corbett dies aged 85

He was best known for his long association with fellow comedian Ronnie Barker

Ronnie Corbett, dead, comedian, entertainer, Britain, Ronnie Barker, The Two Ronnies

Ronnie Corbett arrives at the Battersea Power Station Boiler House for a fund-raising auction in 2010 | Image: Ian Nicholson / PA Archive/Press Association Images

British entertainer Ronnie Corbett has died aged 85 surrounded by his family, his publicist has said.

A statement from his publicist said: "Ronnie Corbett CBE, one of the nation's best-loved entertainers, passed away this morning, surrounded by his loving family.
"They have asked that their privacy is respected at this very sad time".

Born Ronald Balfour Corbett in Edinburgh, Corbett was perhaps best known for his long association with fellow comedian Ronnie Barker in the television series 'The Two Ronnies'.

The pair first worked together on 'The Frost Report' in the late 1960s before developing their own show which included sketches, singing and dancing.

The show is still hailed as one of the most popular TV programmes of the late 20th century.

Former BBC chairman Michael Grade said the star was working right up until his death and was a "comic genius".

He said people loved working with the comedian and he had an "innate" feel for comedy and what would make an audience laugh.

Tributes paid

Tributes from the world of comedy poured in after news of Corbett's death was announced.

Ricky Gervais wrote: "RIP the lovely, funny legend Ronnie Corbett. It was an absolute honour & joy to have known him".

Jack Whitehall tweeted: "RIP Ronnie Corbett, what a brilliant and funny man he was".

John Cleese tweeted: "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".

Lenny Henry said: "What sad news. Condolences to his family".

And David Walliams said: "Goodbye my friend and comedy idol #RonnieCorbett Thank you for all the laughs. It was the greatest honour to know and work with you".

The 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".

Corbett was married to actress and dancer Anne Hart for over 50 years and the couple had two daughters - Emma and Sophie.

He was awarded a CBE in 2012 for his services to charity and the entertainment industry.

His wife later revealed that, during a celebration to mark the achievement, he had collapsed in a restaurant and was rushed to hospital.