Scottish comedian Ronnie Corbett, best known as one-half of British comedy television staple “The Two Ronnies,” died on Thursday at age 85.
“Ronnie Corbett CBE, one of the nation’s best-loved entertainers, passed away this morning, surrounded by his loving family,” his publicist said in a statement to the BBC.
His partner on “Two Ronnies,” which aired for 16 years, was Ronnie Barker, who died in 2005. They were two of the U.K.’s most beloved comedians. Their signature sign-off, “Now it’s goodnight from me,” “and it’s goodnight from him” became known to a wide audience even after their show ended in 1987.
Many comedians took to Twitter to remember the late comedy star. British actor John Cleese, who worked with Corbett on “The Frost Report” in the 1960s, tweeted, “He had the best timing I’ve ever watched. He was a great, kind mentor and a wonderfully witty companion.”
“House” alum and star of the “The Night Manager” Hugh Laurie also expressed his sadness over Corbett, describing him as “a beautiful, brilliant man.”
English comedian Miranda Hart wrote, “Having a little weep at the death of one of my heroes Ronnie Corbett. As he would say, ‘Miranda, you can’t look up to me.’ Goodbye from me.”
“Monty Python” comedian Michael Palin told the BBC that Corbett had “a great sense of silliness.”
“He could do the serious stuff as well, but there was a lovely sort of mischief, his eyes twinkled,” Palin said. “He was absolutely delightful to play with and against, and do material with and, also, just a good friend, too.
“Thanks for all the laughs, mate,” Russell Crowe tweeted, quoting his catchphrase.
Corbett was born in Edinburgh, Scotland. He knew he wanted to be an actor at an early age, so he moved to London to forge an acting career after he finished his obligatory time in the National Service.
He performed in cabarets, onstage and films, including “Rockets Galore,” before he landed on David Frost’s “The Frost Report,” which made him a household name. One famous sketch from the show, which included Corbett, Barker and Cleese, was about British social classes, using the different heights of the three comedians to represent the lower, middle and upper class.
In 1971, Barker and Corbett teamed up for the successful BBC sketch comedy show “Two Ronnies.” The difference in their sizes difference lent itself to many comedic acts that included spoofs and musical numbers. At one point, the show had 17 million viewers.
After the show’s end, Corbett starred in the British sitcom “Sorry!” in the ’80s and hosted a game show called “Small Talk” in the ’90s.
In 2005, he reunited with Barker for “The Two Ronnies Sketchbook,” although Barker died later that year. He influenced many comedians, including Ricky Gervais, who tweeted, “It was an absolute honor and joy to have known him.”
Former British prime minister John Prescott tweeted a mash-up photo that referenced one of Corbett’s most popular sketches on “Two Ronnies,” where as a shopkeeper he hands Barker’s character four candles instead of what he had asked for — “fork handles.”
Tonight’s edition of BBC’s “The One Show” will pay tribute to the late Corbett.
Corbett is survived by his wife and two daughters.