Veteran entertainer Max Bygraves dies, aged 89

Showbusiness legend who had been suffering from Alzheimer's Disease died in his sleep in Australia

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Veteran entertainer Max Bygraves dies, aged 89
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Veteran entertainer Max Bygraves has died, aged 89.

The comedian, actor, singer and variety performer, best known for his catchphrase “I wanna tell you a story...” died in his sleep at his daughter's home in Australia.

Born Walter William Bygraves in 1922, the Londoner enjoyed a career in showbusiness that spanned seven decades.

In 1943 he gave his first professional performance at The Roxy Theatre in Falkirk - he earned just £5.10 for three nights work. However, he soon became a regular on the British entertainment circuit. Bygraves got his first break in radio after the Second World War when he worked with Frankie Howerd on the BBC. This led to a touring review gig called The Fun of It which lasted 61-weeks.

By the 1950s he was one of the main acts at the London Palladium's variety shows, appearing alongside many of the great singers and performers of the day, including Judy Garland.  He was also known for his singing and songwriting and released a number of albums throughout his career, including the huge selling Singalongamax.

Bygraves was awarded an OBE in 1982 and later took over from Bob Monkhouse presenting the popular prime time game show Family Fortunes.

He emigrated with his wife, Blossom, from his home in Bournemouth to Australia in 2005. He was widowed last year. He had been suffering from Alzheimer's Disease.

"We have lost one of the best entertainers that Britain has ever produced," his agent Johnny Mans told the BBC.

"He was a friend to everyone... there were no airs and graces."