ANOTHER CHIP OFF COMEDY GOLD
by Norman Warwick
I heard on the BBC News of the death of Barry Cryer (right) and when I search engined the various obituaries there were none finer nor more heartfelt than that by the Mail plus reporter, Connie Evans.
Tributes have continued to flood in, she wrote, for ‘uniquely funny’ comedian and writer Barry Cryer following his death at the age of 86.
John Cleese tweeted: ‘We worked together on The Frost Report, [At Last] The 1948 Show and Jokers Wild. I never met a nicer, kinder, more cheerful man. Feeling sick. RIP old friend.’
Actor Rob Brydon (left) tweeted a photo of himself at lunch with Cryer and comedians David Mitchell and Lee Mack, writing: ‘So terribly sad to hear the news.
‘A great man. It was my life-enhancing pleasure to know him and call him aa friend. This was taken at the most enjoyable story-rich lunch just last year.’
Over a seven-decade career, Cryer appeared on radio, stage and screen as a comedian in his own right, while writing for comedy icons including Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett, Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise, Sir Billy Connolly and Tommy Cooper.
Cryer was born in Leeds in 1935 and featured regularly on BBC Radio 4’s I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue over more than four decades.
He had a long-running partnership with late television presenter Sir David Frost (right) , their collaborations including The Frost Report on the BBC and ITV sketch series At Last The 1948 Show.
Comedian Jack Dee, who hosts I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue, said: ‘British comedy just lost its greatest curator and archivist. Thoughts are with Terry and all his family. RIP Baz. “There was this parrot…”.’
BBC director general Tim Davie said Cryer was a ‘uniquely funny, talented and generous person’.
Employees at the pub he frequented for decades described the comedian as someone who ‘always had a smile on his face’.
A member of staff at the Moon And Sixpence in Harrow, north-west London, said: ‘He was a very nice man, a very humble man. He was always kind to everyone who came over to him.
‘He would tell his old jokes and stories, everything always had a punchline. He used to say, “Touring at 80, I am lucky to be doing anything at 80!”
‘It did not matter the day, he never seemed angry, he was always so happy, it was exciting to go over to him… we will miss him dearly.’
Cryer was made an OBE in 2001 and given a Lifetime Achievement Award by the British Music Hall Society in 2018.
In 2013, he was awarded an honorary doctorate of arts by Leeds Metropolitan University, after having dropped out of the University of Leeds, where he briefly studied English literature.
In December, Cryer launched a podcast with his son Bob, titled Now, Where Were We?, which featured guests including Stephen Fry and Miriam Margolyes.
The comedian reached number one in the Finnish charts in 1958 with a version of Sheb Wooley’s (left) The Purple People Eater.
Stephen Fry tweeted: ‘Such sad news, one of the absolute greats of British comedy, Barry Cryer, is no more.
‘A glorious, gorgeous, hilarious and gifted writer and performer, who straddled all the comic traditions. Universally beloved … farewell, Baz.’
Broadcaster Gyles Brandreth shared a picture of himself and Cryer with the caption: ‘Here we are only a few weeks ago. Baz was just the loveliest guy: funny and generous. Barry (left) had worked with everybody and everybody he worked with liked him. I shall miss his happy company so much, and his regular phone calls – he gave you a gem of a joke with each one.’
Food critic Jay Rayner said: ‘Farewell to the great Barry Cryer. A comic genius and a very, very lovely man.
‘Had a habit of phoning people on their birthday and telling them a joke. It was always a good one. But then his jokes always were.’
photo 8 Comedian David Baddiel (left) said: ‘Ah, Barry Cryer. Lived and breathed comedy. RIP.’
When asked what his favourite joke was by The Yorkshire Post, Cryer recalled one he had told at a student revue in 1955.
He said: ‘A man drives down a country lane and runs over a cockerel. He knocks at a nearby farmhouse door and a woman answers.
‘“I appear to have killed your cockerel,” he says. “I’d like to replace it.” The woman replies, “Please yourself – the hens are round the back”.’
Cryer is survived by his wife Theresa, known as Terry, their four children, seven grandchildren and one great-grandchild.