Tributes have been flooding in for comic, actor and director Mel Smith, who has died at the age of 60.
They were led by his friend and comedy partner Griff Rhys Jones, who said: "He inspired love and utter loyalty and he gave it in return. I will look back on the days working with him as some of the funniest times that I have ever spent. We probably enjoyed ourselves far too much, but we had a roller coaster of a ride along the way."
Fellow Not the Nine O'Clock News star Rowan Atkinson said: "Mel Smith - a lovely man of whom I saw too little in his later years. I loved the sketches that we did together on Not the Nine O'Clock News.
"He was the cast member with whom I felt the most natural performing empathy. He had a wonderfully generous and sympathetic presence both on and off screen.
"He was also an excellent theatre and movie director, doing a wonderful job on the first Mr Bean movie.
"If you direct a comedy movie that takes 245 million dollars at the box office you've done something pretty special, and I never thought he was given enough credit for this success. I feel truly sad at his parting."
ITV director of television Peter Fincham, who was the business partner of Smith and Jones at Talkback as well as their agent, said: "Life was always exciting around Mel.
"He was my friend and business partner for many years and had extraordinary natural talent with the rare gift of wearing it lightly.
"Being funny came naturally to him, so much so that he never seemed to give it a second thought. Mel and Griff were one of the great comedy acts and it's hard to imagine that one of them is no longer with us."
BBC director general Tony Hall said: "Mel Smith's contribution to British comedy cannot be overstated. On screen he helped to define a new style of comedy from the late 1970s that continues to influence people to this day.
"And his pioneering TV production work with Griff Rhys Jones through their company Talkback has created many of the defining comedy shows of recent decades."
BBC director of television, Danny Cohen, said: "Mel Smith was one of the comedy greats of the modern era. He brought huge pleasure to audiences through both his performances and his writing.
"Many of today's most celebrated comedians will have grown up learning from Mel Smith."
Friends and colleagues have been paying tribute to Smith on Twitter.
Comedian and broadcaster Stephen Fry wrote: "Terrible news about my old friend Mel Smith, dead today from a heart attack. Mel lived a full life, but was kind, funny & wonderful to know."
Father Ted writer Graham Linehan said he and writing partner Arthur Mathews had been helped in their career by Smith, with their first sketches being broadcast on Alas Smith and Jones.
He said on Twitter: "Very sad to hear news of Mel Smith's death has been confirmed. He and Griff gave Arthur and I our break. Was always so kind & generous to us."
Actor and comic Peter Serafinowicz also paid tribute on Twitter. He wrote: "Very sad to hear about Mel Smith. He did something very kind for me early in my career even though he hardly knew me. Such a funny man."
Actor and comedian James Corden took to Twitter to express his gratitude to Smith, tweeting: "Thank you for the laughs Mel Smith. RIP"
Meanwhile, comedian Johnny Vegas described Smith as a "comedy legend" in a tweet.
He wrote: "So sorry to hear of Mel Smith's untimely passing. My sincere condolences to his family. A great loss, a comedy legend, a nice bloke."
Another comedian and actor, Matt Lucas, of Little Britain fame, added on Twitter: "So sad to hear about the passing of the great Mel Smith. Brilliant writer, actor and director and a lovely man too."
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