Likely Lads star Rodney Bewes dies aged 79

Fans paid tribute to the celebrated BBC sitcom star, who played Bob Ferris in The Likely Lads alongside James Bolam

Rodney Bewes

Actor Rodney Bewes, best known as the star of 1960s BBC sitcom The Likely Lads, has died aged 79.

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Bewes, who played Bob Ferris in the iconic comedy and its 70s sequel Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads, died on Tuesday morning, a week before his 80th birthday.

His agent Michelle Braidman confirmed the news, calling him a “true one off” and “brilliant storyteller”.

She added, “He had a funny anecdote for every occasion. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this sad time. We will miss him terribly.”

Bewes was originally born in Yorkshire in 1937 before his family moved to Luton. He began his acting career young, appearing in the BBC’s Mystery at Mountcliffe Chase and The Pickwick Papers in 1952 and then moving to London aged 14 to attend Rada.

Other early roles came in repertory theatre and TV series like Z-Cars and Dixon of Dock Green, before Bewes finally secured his starmaking role in The Likely Lads alongside longtime collaborator James Bolam in 1962.

A sequel and 1975 film spin-off followed, but Bewes and Bolam spectacularly fell out over a newspaper interview, and Bolam refused to speak to Bewes for four decades.

However, their years together in the BBC sitcom left a lasting impact on fans throughout the UK, with many famous faces including comedian Jack Dee, Olympic rower Matthew Pinsent, Mark Gatiss and presenters Ant and Dec (who played the Likely Lads in a remake of classic Likely Lads episode No Hiding Place in 2002) paying tribute to Bewes’ career on Twitter.

BBC comedy controller Shane Allen paid tribute to Bewes and The Likely Lads: “Audiences got to see him go from black and white to colour as the revival was a huge hit with audiences of all ages. It’s one of the all-time great BBC sitcoms; timeless in its humour and will be enjoyed for decades to come.”

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Bewes is survived by a daughter and three sons, and his two grandchildren.