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Last Updated: Monday, 29 December, 2003, 16:27 GMT
Comedian Bob Monkhouse dies
Monkhouse was working until six weeks ago
The British entertainment world is mourning comedian Bob Monkhouse, who has died aged 75.

The star, one of the UK's best known entertainers, battled prostate and bone cancer for more than two years.

He died peacefully in his sleep with his wife Jackie at his side, said his manager of 38 years, Peter Prichard.

"He was respected by all the other comedians because he was dedicated to his craft - he never stopped making people laugh," Mr Prichard said.

Mr Prichard said Monkhouse was still working six weeks before his death, despite being in a great deal of pain.

When I said I was going to become a comedian, they all laughed. Well, they're not laughing now.
Bob Monkhouse

"He's one of the bravest men I've met. He suffered very badly at times with it but he carried on.

"He was a total professional and one of the funniest men in the world," he said.

Speaking of his own sense of loss, Mr Prichard said: "I knew it was coming, but when you get the news you realise we have lost one of the greatest comics that England has ever produced."

In 1993, Monkhouse, who lived in Eggington, near Leighton Buzzard, was awarded the OBE.

Bob was one of the few men that could make me cringe, get me mad, cry (with laughter) and have me laughing until it hurts
Dominic, UK

In March this year, when accepting a lifetime achievement award from the Television and Radio Industries Club, Monkhouse said he had been "very lucky" with his treatment.

It involved an implant in his stomach and a daily pill which allowed him to keep on working.

Monkhouse once said: "I'll never stop working. I want to die in the saddle. A day is wasted for me if I haven't done something even mildly creative."

"Anyone who understood comedy loved Bob. He would arrive at any function or cabaret with specially written, individual material for every occasion," said fellow entertainer Des O'Connor.

"He loved showbusiness and showbusiness was lucky to have him. He was not only a brilliant mind, but the warmest and most genuine of friends. One of the brightest lights just went out on the Christmas tree," he said.

Bob Monkhouse in 1967

BBC director general Greg Dyke said Monkhouse understood TV entertainment better than anyone else in the last four decades.

"Bob was a major entertainment figure for nearly half a century with both the BBC and ITV," he said.

Born in Beckenham, south London, in June 1928, Monkhouse developed his talent for comedy while a pupil at nearby Dulwich College.

He went on to enjoy a long career as a comedian and occasional straight actor.

But Monkhouse was probably best known as a host of popular TV game shows including Celebrity Squares and Family Fortunes.

Monkhouse leaves a daughter, Abigail.

His two sons both died in tragic circumstances, Gary from cerebral palsy and Simon from a heroin overdose.

The BBC's Nick Higham
"Bob Monkhouse was an old fashioned entertainer"


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