Actor Sam Kelly, best know for his roles in sitcoms Allo Allo and Porridge, has died aged 70 following a long illness.
Kelly passed away on Saturday morning, his agent Lynda Ronan confirmed.
“Sam Kelly died peacefully this morning after a long illness bravely fought,” said Ronan. “He does not leave any family but a host of friends who were his chosen family. His death is a great loss to them and the profession.”
Kelly starred in 1980s BBC1 wartime sitcom Allo Allo as reluctant Nazi officer Captain Hans Geering, known for his half-hearted salute “’tler!” He also played prison inmate Bunny Warren alongside Ronnie Barker in Porridge between 1974 and 1978.
His subsequent work included roles in sitcoms Barbara and On the Up, as well as another wartime role, that of the Fuhrer himself, in 1993 prisoner of war comedy Statagluft, with Stephen Fry and Nicholas Lyndhurst.
Fry referred to the role in a tweet after hearing the news: “Very saddened to hear about Sam Kelly’s death. He played a splendid Hitler”.
Kelly was also well respected for his work on the stage, which included roles at the National Theatre and the Old Vic as well as more recently as the Wizard of Oz in Wicked, which he was forced to quit due to his ill health.
Jacqueline Hughes, Kelly’s co-star in the West End musical, told her Twitter followers “So terribly saddened by the death of Mr Sam Kelly. I feel so lucky to have had the chance to work with such an inspiring gentleman xxx”.
Further tributes came from around the British show business world.
Sherlock actor Mark Gatiss said: “Desperately sad news that the wonderful Sam Kelly has left us. Such a funny, talented man and one of the good guys. RIP Bunny Warren”.
And Robert Lindsay dedicated his evening performance in stage show Dirty Rotten Scoundrels to Kelly, tweeting “Feel so depressed about the amazing Sam Kelly’s passing how do we manage a second comic musical tonight? we dedicate it to him RIP”.