Bobby Knutt, the Sheffield comedian who became a straight actor on such TV shows as Benidorm, Emmerdale and Last of the Summer Wine, has died at 71.
The comic, whose real name was Robert Wass, had been holidaying in the south of France, friends said.
Perhaps best known for playing Emmerdale’s Albert Dingle between 1995 and 2004, he had been married to the former Olympic runner Donna Hartley until her death at 58, four years ago.
Derren Litten, Benidorm’s writer, tweeted: “The wonderful Bobby Knutt has passed away suddenly aged 71. Love to his family.”
Neil Crossland, a friend since childhood, said: “He was enjoying life to the full. He was doing really well on Benidrom and he was still doing what he did best - making people laugh.
“They don’t make them like him anymore. He was one of the last great comedians of his generation. His death has come as a real shock.”
Knutt started performing in the clubs of South Yorkshire at 16, initially as a singer and then as half of a comedy double act called Pee and Knutt. He gained TV exposure on Granada’s The Comedians and Wheeltappers And Shunters Social Club, and in 1977 was given the lead role in The Price of Coal, a BBC drama about a mining disaster in South Yorkshire, written by Barry Hines and directed by Ken Loach,