UK: Tributes paid after comedian Mel Smith dies aged 60
- Credit: PA
Tributes have been paid to comedian Mel Smith after his death at the age of 60, with his sidekick Griff Rhys Jones describing him as someone who “inspired love and utter loyalty”.
The star of Alas Smith and Jones and Not the Nine O’Clock News had a heart attack at his home yesterday.
In a statement on behalf of Smith’s wife Pam, his agent Michael Foster said: “Mel Smith, comedian and writer, died on Friday aged 60, from a heart attack at his home in north west London.”
Jones, who lives in Suffolk and had been friends with Smith for 35 years, said: “I still can’t believe this has happened. To everybody who ever met him, Mel was a force for life. He had a relish for it that seemed utterly inexhaustible.
“He inspired love and utter loyalty and he gave it in return. I will look back on the days working with him as some of the funniest times that I have ever spent.
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“We probably enjoyed ourselves far too much, but we had a rollercoaster of a ride along the way. Terrific business. Fantastic fun, making shows. Huge parties and crazy times. And Mel was always ready to be supportive. Nobody could have been easier to work with.
“We never had an argument about which part we should play or how we were going to do something. We never had an argument, in fact. We loved performing together. He was a very generous and supportive actor. We had a good deal of fun.
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“Mel was not a pressure person. He was a gentleman and a scholar, a gambler and a wit. And he was a brilliant actor. But he never took himself or the business too seriously. We are all in a state of shock. We have lost a very, very dear friend.”
Smith attended Oxford University while Jones was at Cambridge and the pair became known to each other while performing at the Edinburgh fringe.
They became friends working on Not the Nine O’Clock News and then went on to make Alas Smith and Jones, which lasted for 10 series over 16 years.
Friends and colleagues have also been paying tribute to Smith on Twitter.
Comedian and broadcaster Stephen Fry wrote: “Terrible news about my old friend Mel Smith, dead today from a heart attack. Mel lived a full life, but was kind, funny & wonderful to know.”
Rowan Atkinson, who worked with Smith on both Not the Nine O’Clock News and Bean, the first Mr Bean film, said he was “truly sad” to hear about his death.
In a statement, he said: “Mel Smith - a lovely man of whom I saw too little in his later years. I loved the sketches that we did together on Not the Nine O’Clock News.
“He had a wonderfully generous and sympathetic presence both on and off screen.”