British comedian Barry Cryer, who wrote for sketch shows including ‘The Two Ronnies’ and ‘Morecambe and Wise,’ died on Tuesday in London, his family have confirmed. He was 86.
No cause of death has been released.
Cryer was a veteran of British television and radio. Born in Yorkshire, he originally began his career as a variety performer.
According to the BBC, broadcaster Sir David Frost spotted him on stage and invited him to work on his shows, including “The Frost Report” alongside writers John Cleese, Graham Chapman and Marty Feldman.
He would eventually go on to work on a number of beloved television and radio programmes including “Hello, Cheeky!,” “The Two Ronnies” and “Morecambe and Wise.”
He also wrote for dozens of famous comedians such as Bob Hope, Joan Rivers and Tommy Cooper.
Last month, Cryer launched a podcast with his son Bob, an actor and writer, interviewing many of his well-known friends including Stephen Fry, Danny Baker, Mirian Margolyes and Sanjeev Bhasker. The most recent episode, with Bhasker, was released just 11 days before Cryer’s death.
“Alongside his son, actor and writer Bob Cryer, Barry’s booked a room at a favourite London pub, called up a bunch of famous pals he’s not seen since lockdown began, and he’s invited them down for a pint and a proper catch-up,” reads the synopsis for the show. “This is Barry at his storytelling best, in his natural habitat, doing what he’s done for decades: making us laugh.”
In a statement confirming Cryer’s death, his family wrote: “We’re pleased to say that he died peacefully, in good spirits and with his family around him.”
“Dad was a talented comedy writer and comedian in a particularly golden vintage. Incidentally, he never really liked the terms ‘comedy writer’ or ‘comedian,’ instead preferring ‘hack’ and ‘entertainer’ and always thought the term ‘national treasure’ meant he’d just been dug up. He was, in his words, arrogant in his humility.”
“He had a gift for friendship (as anyone who still has a landline will testify) and a genius for putting people at their ease. Oh yes, and he made many people laugh. A lot. Over many years.”
“Never lose touch with silly,’ he said, quoting his idol Humphrey Lyttelton – something we’ve all been very grateful for in the last few days.”
“It’ll be of no surprise to those that knew and worked with him that he was telling an Archbishop of Canterbury joke to a nurse not long before he died. That was one of his gifts, making strangers feel welcome. Making them laugh.”
— Barry Cryer (@barrycryer80) January 27, 2022
Comedians, media personalities and television executives alike have also paid tribe to Cryer following news of his death.
“Barry Cryer was a uniquely funny, talented and generous person,” BBC director-general Tim Davie said in a statement. “He was an incredible comedian and writer. If you heard or saw a great sketch there was always a good chance Barry was behind it. He worked with every major showbiz legend because everyone wanted to work with him. Barry will be hugely missed by his many friends at the BBC and the wider public.”
Comedian and “Wilde” actor Fry also paid tribute on Twitter, writing: “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.”
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.
— Stephen Fry (@stephenfry) January 27, 2022
“Ah, Barry Cryer. Lived and breathed comedy. RIP,” wrote David Baddiel.
Ah, Barry Cryer. Lived and breathed comedy. RIP.
— David Baddiel (@Baddiel) January 27, 2022
“Good Omens” co-writer Neil Gaiman also posted a tribute, writing: “I’m so so so sorry to hear this. I only worked with Barry Cryer once, on the BBC Radio 4 Anansi Boys – and he wasn’t in the broadcast version, as he was unwell. But being in the room and watching him act and tell jokes was an utter joy. #RIPBarry”
I'm so so so sorry to hear this. I only worked with Barry Cryer once, on the @BBCRadio4 Anansi Boys – and he wasn't in the broadcast version, as he was unwell. But being in the room and watching him act and tell jokes was an utter joy. #RIPBarry https://t.co/gm574g1Yeq
— Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself) January 27, 2022
Mark Gatiss, who stars in the Amazon Prime Video dramatization of “Good Omens,” wrote on Twitter:
“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. Red heart”
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. ❤️
— Mark Gatiss 💙 (@Markgatiss) January 27, 2022
A private funeral for friends and family will be held in the coming weeks with a larger memorial planned for later in the year.
Cryer is survived by his wife Terry, his four sons Bob, Jack, David and Tony, seven grandchildren and one great grand-daughter.