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Last Updated: Monday, 29 December, 2003, 17:51 GMT
Tributes for 'incredible' comic
Bob Monkhouse
Monkhouse was on TV, radio and stage for more than 50 years
The entertainment world has been paying tribute to comedian and quiz show host Bob Monkhouse, who died on Monday after a battle with prostate and bone cancer.

Fellow entertainers Russ Abbott and Sir Norman Wisdom were among those to speak of their sadness.

Veteran Max Bygraves remembered his friend of 30 years as an "incredible" comedian "with charm and panache".

"He knew the entertainment game backwards and understood the mechanics of comedy like no-one else," he said.

"He had an incredible mind for filing away jokes," Bygraves said.

Bob was such a reliable performer... he will be sadly missed
Max Bygraves
"Like everyone who has been in the game for a long time, he went out of vogue for a while but then people realised there was nobody around who could do it as well as him and he was back in demand.

"Bob was such a reliable performer... he will be sadly missed," he said.

Close friend and comic actor Russ Abbott said: "The man was a genius and one of the last comic greats. I feel very fortunate to have known him.

"I last saw him in Barbados when he told me he was over the worst and on the mend, so it's very sad that hasn't proved to be the case."

'Genius'

BBC director general Greg Dyke described Monkhouse as "a major entertainment figure for nearly half a century".

"He probably understood television entertainment better than anyone else over the last 40 years," he said.

Comic legend Sir Norman Wisdom said: "Bob was a comedy genius and will be missed by all his fellow comedians, including myself."

He was brilliant and inspirational and there are not many comics of his calibre around any more
Les Dennis
Comedy writer Barry Cryer called Monkhouse "a man for all seasons" who "could do anything".

"We used to say he had a computer in his head. His memory was astonishing," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"He was very funny about himself as a game show host. That was one of the most endearing things - the way he could make fun of himself."

'Sincere'

Les Dennis, who followed Monkhouse as Family Fortunes host, remembered a "truly lovely man" who helped him when he joined the quiz show.

Bob Monkhouse on Carlton TV's Celebrity Squares
He had a reputation for being cheesy and smarmy but he had millions of good jokes - nobody could stop him
Ian Hislop
"He called me out of the blue to give me some support and encouragement. He was a genuinely sincere person," he said.

"He was brilliant and inspirational and there are not many comics of his calibre around any more."

Impressionist Mike Yarwood said he would miss the "perfect gentleman".

"Bob was a very gifted comedian but a very modest man with no ego. Every time you spoke to him he wanted to talk about you, never about himself," he said.

"He was a television star for five decades and very few can match that."

Ken Dodd, who worked with Monkhouse on the stage, called him "a king amongst comedians".

He said: "Bob was a true superstar who could charm and dazzle any audience. He was a loving, caring family man who was a wonderful example to everyone in show business."

'Blew everybody away'

Comedy actress June Whitfield, who last saw Monkhouse at the recording of an edition of This Is Your Life dedicated to him which was broadcast in April, said: "In the days of live TV, he really did do the most incredibly complicated physical fallabouts.

"I was so pleased I was able to be on his edition of This Is Your Life, but I didn't realise then that seeing him and chatting with him then, that would be goodbye."

Giving a lift to nine-year-old singer Toni Warne from Ipswich outside the London Palladium
Opportunity Knocks frontman: Monkhouse with a child star in 1987
One of Monkhouse's early producers, Brian Tesler, paid tribute to the comedian's hard work.

"He was hugely diligent in the amount of time he spent on researching his material. If he did an after-dinner speech he would research the people who were there, so he could make remarks about them and not just general ones, " he told BBC News 24.

"He would work an audience better than anyone I could come across."

Private Eye editor and Have I Got News For You panellist Ian Hislop met Monkhouse when the comic appeared on the satirical quiz show in 1994.

He said: "He was extremely good on it. He was one of the older generation of comedians that we had on, and he just came on and blew everybody away.

"He had a reputation for being cheesy and smarmy but he had millions of good jokes. Nobody could stop him, he was like a machine gun."




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