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Wednesday, 11 April, 2001, 20:56 GMT 21:56 UK
Sir Harry's 'joy' greatly missed
Sir Harry Secombe
Sir Harry: Remembered as a friend and entertainer
The worlds of royalty, arts and showbusiness have paid tribute to Sir Harry Secombe, who has died aged 79.

They remembered a great all-round entertainer who was full of joy and loved by the public and members of his profession.

Sir Spike Milligan, his Goon Show co-star and long-time friend said: "I grieve for an unbelievable friend."

And Dame Thora Hird, who also knew Sir Harry for more than 40 years, said she had lost a very great friend.

Spike Milligan
Spike Milligan has lost an "unbelievable" friend
"I will remember him with love and devotion. He was a great fellow, a great comic, a dear man and a very great friend."

The Prince of Wales, who was a great admirer of Sir Harry and in particular his works on The Goons, also paid tribute.

"I was deeply saddened to learn of the death of Sir Harry Secombe to whom I spoke only recently in hospital," he said.

"He was one of the great life enhancers of our age and gave pleasure and constant happy laughter to so many of us throughout his life.

The Prince of Wales
The Prince of Wales was a big fan of Sir Harry
And the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey, spoke of his admiration for Sir Harry, who was also a committed Christian.

"From first seeing him on stage in the 1960s in Pickwick, then later meeting him in person, I grew to know Harry as a magnificent entertainer, a good friend and a man of shining Christian faith.

"He drew deep on his faith - it was the source of his joy, warmth and humour, undimmed even during illness. It was his source of courage and strength too."

Dr George Carey
Dr George Carey: Sir Harry was "a man of shining faith"
Greg Dyke, director general of the BBC also paid tribute. "It is hard to believe that it is 50 years since The Goons were first broadcast on BBC Radio," he said.

"The Goons transformed comedy and their humour has transcended the generations.

"That humour, his magnificent voice which brought pleasure to millions, and a deep compassion, made Sir Harry special. We will miss him."

Jenny Abramsky, Director BBC Radio and Music said Sir Harry and the Goons played "a huge part in my falling in love with radio".

"He was a brilliant comedian and a great communicator. He will be sorely missed," she added.

Michael Parkinson
Michael Parkinson: "He was one of my boyhood heroes"
Television presenter Michael Parkinson, who was a close friend of Sir Harry's for many years, said he was deeply saddened by the news of his death.

"He was one of my boyhood heroes, I used to see him on the theatre during his variety act and I was fortunate enough to get to know him personally later.

"He was a lovely, wonderful man who had the great gift of laughter and he shared it with everyone. It was impossible to be miserable when you were around him."

The BBC's media correspondent Nick Higham said Sir Harry had boundless energy and interests.

John Major
John Major said Sir Harry was a "comic genius"
"He was a doer of good works. He was a very religious man. He will be remembered as a thoroughly good egg.

"He slimmed down in later life because of diabetes, but for much of his career he was a jolly fat man with a wonderful singing voice."

Broadcaster Denis Norden, who was Sir Harry's close friend for more than 50 years, said the world would be a sadder place without him.

"I never met anyone who did not have the warmest of feelings for him - he was exceptional in that way.

Jenny Abramsky
Jenny Abramsky was inspired by Sir Harry
"He was not one of those comedians who was gloomy off-stage and he always cheered up the occasion wherever he was.

"He was mightily talented and one hesitates to say they don't make them like that anymore but in those days you had to have more than one skill.

"He had his singing and his own gift for comedy - he was much more than just an interpreter of lines. It is that multi-skill that we are missing badly.

And former Tory prime minister John Major, who had a great affection for Sir Harry, said: "He was one of the loveliest of men and a comic genius who gave pleasure to millions."

Terry Wogan
Terry Wogan: "I am so very sorry"
Singer and chat show host Des O'Connor added: "He was just so special in every way you can think.

"He was so very special he will never be replaced."

Broadcaster Terry Wogan also voiced his sorrow, saying: "I am so very sorry, it is a great loss, he was a very lovely person."

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