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BBC Wales's Jon Gower
"He had a zest for life and a gift to entertain"
 real 56k

BBC Wales's Adrian Masters
"After he was knighted for his charity work he became affectionately known as Sir Cumference"
 real 28k

The BBC's Nick Higham
pays tribute to Sir Harry
 real 56k

Denis Norden remembers his friend
"He could liven up a gathering without resorting to jokes"
 real 56k

Sir Harry's brother Fred Secombe
"He kept his sense of humour to the end."
 real 56k

Thursday, 12 April, 2001, 16:23 GMT 17:23 UK
Tributes paid to Sir Harry Secombe
Sir Harry Secombe pictured with his brother
Sir Harry [R]: One of the UK's best-loved entertainers
Friends, entertainers, politicians and royalty have been paying tribute to Sir Harry Secombe.

The Swansea-born entertainer famed for his work with The Goon Show, died on Wednesday aged 79.


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

Prince Charles
His wife Myra was at his bedside when he died from prostate cancer at hospital in Guildford, Surrey.

The Secombe family said in a statement: "We are grieving for a wonderful man, and a much loved husband, father and grandfather."

Prince Charles, a long-established fan of the Goons, said: "I was deeply saddened to learn of the death of Sir Harry Secombe, to whom I spoke only recently in hospital.

"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."

Sir Harry pictured with Peter Sellers (L) and Spike Milligan [R]
Sir Harry pictured with Peter Sellers (L) and Spike Milligan [R]

Welsh Assembly First Secretary Rhodri Morgan said: "Sir Harry was part of that remarkable array of Welsh talent which emerged after the last War.

"Although he was multi-talented, his great gift was that he was able to poke fun at himself and in turn, through the Goon Show character Neddy Seagoon, to poke fun at the British establishment.

"The whole of Wales will mourn a great son of Swansea and a great Welshman."

Goon Show star Spike Milligan paid tribute by saying: "I grieve for an unbelievable friend."

Close friend and work colleague Barry Cryer said : "He was a joy to be with and to work with."


The whole of Wales will mourn a great son of Swansea and a great Welshman

Assembly First Secretary Rhodri Morgan

A funeral is planned for next week and a memorial service will be held later in the year.

Sir Harry was the son of a commercial traveller and a shop manageress, and learned to entertain from an early age.

In recent years he had suffered from several health problems, including diabetes and a stroke.

He announced his retirement from showbusiness in 1999.

During his last few months Sir Harry found his eyesight failing and he had suffered some paralysis down his left side.

'Determined'

During a BBC One tribute screened last year he pointed out that he should have been in a wheelchair but wanted to remain as active as possible.

"When I did the This Is Your Life special earlier this year I was determined to walk on to the stage rather than be wheeled on," he said at the time.

"I'm also having hormone injections, which have a very strange effect on your body," he said in a mock camp lisp.

Sir Harry said he learned how to make people laugh as a child.

Sir Harry and his wife, Myra
Sir Harry was delighted with his knighthood
"Because I had poor eyesight I had to wear glasses and was worried about getting bullied," he said. "To make sure this didn't happen I started being the fool - and it worked."

He went on to become one of Britain's best-loved entertainers.

The veteran comic rose to prominence on BBC radio with his work on the Goons, and was knighted in 1981.

The Goon Show, which also starred Spike Milligan, Peter Sellers and Michael Bentine, was first broadcast in 1949, and enjoyed a nine-year run.

Films

As well as counting Prince Charles among its fans, Beatle John Lennon was also known to tune in to enjoy the show.

Sir Harry later became known as a singer and frequently appeared at the London Palladium between 1956 to 1966.

He appeared in several films during the 70s, including the musical Oliver! in which he played Mr Bumble.

More recently, Sir Harry, a committed Christian, presented the Sunday night religious programme Highway on ITV as well as Songs of Praise on BBC One.

He had also been involved in charity work for organisations including the Army Benevolent Fund and the Stars Organisation for Spastics.

The Harry Secombe golf classic was first held at Ifield in 1967, and has since raised 250,000 for the physically and mentally disabled.

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See also:

11 Apr 01 | Entertainment
Picture gallery: Sir Harry Secombe
11 Apr 01 | Entertainment
Sir Harry: The ultimate entertainer
11 Apr 01 | Entertainment
Sir Harry's 'joy' greatly missed
11 Apr 01 | Talking Point
Sir Harry Secombe: Your tributes
05 Sep 99 | Entertainment
Secombe bows out of limelight
30 Jan 99 | UK
Secombe suffers stroke
30 Dec 00 | New Year Honours 2000
Spike's comic genius hailed
24 Jul 00 | Entertainment
Sellers tribute unveiled
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