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Wednesday, June 23, 1999 Published at 22:53 GMT 23:53 UK


Fools stars pay tribute to Buster

Merryfield (right) with Nicholas Lyndhurst and David Jason

Only Fools And Horses stars David Jason and Nicholas Lyndhurst have paid tribute to co-star Buster Merryfield, who has died aged 78.

Samantha Symmonds reports
The veteran actor, who was known to millions as Uncle Albert in the BBC One show, had been undergoing treatment for a brain tumour.

His wife Iris - to whom he was married for 57 years - was at his bedside when he died.

David Jason, who played Del Boy Trotter in the show, said: "Buster Merryfield is a great loss personally as well, of course, to his family and the rest of the country.

"He was a great man and a joy to work with and I will seriously miss him both as a friend and as an actor."

Nicholas Lyndhust, who played Rodney, said: "I was shocked and saddened to hear of Buster's death.

"He was a gentle, sweet-natured man and he will be greatly missed by everyone who knew him. He made the part of Uncle Albert a national institution."

Brain tumour treatment

[ image: Merryfield was known to millions as Uncle Albert]
Merryfield was known to millions as Uncle Albert
On Tuesday, his agent Sandy Ross-Brown revealed he was being treated at Poole General Hospital, Dorset, for a brain tumour.

White-whiskered Merryfield, who lived in Bournemouth, was admitted to hospital 11 days ago.

He became a national institution after joining the hit comedy Only Fools and Horses in 1984.

Since the final show was aired at Christmas 1996, Merryfield made numerous personal appearances.

Before becoming an actor at the age of 57, he worked in banking for 40 years.

He always prided himself on his fitness, following a strict fitness regime of daily press-ups and swimming sessions.


Unlike his TV character, the pipe-sucking Uncle Albert, Merryfield never smoked.

His efforts to stay fit could be traced back to his time as a child boxing star in the 1930s.

He was British schoolboy champion in 1936 and Southern Command army champion in 1945.

Merryfield caught the acting bug during World War II when he was a physical training and jungle warfare instructor.

As sports and entertainments officer he organised shows for the troops. One night when a compere went sick he was forced to step in and his future was sealed.

The BBC screened a scheduled edition of Only Fools and Horses as planned on Wednesday evening after Merryfield's family gave it their blessing.

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