ENTERTAINMENT
01/09/2012 09:44 BST | Updated 01/11/2012 05:12 GMT

Max Bygraves Dead: Variety Performer And Comedian Dies In Australia Aged 89

The entertainer, variety performer and comedian Max Bygraves has died aged 89.

The performer whose catchphrase was "I wanna tell you a story" had been suffering from Alzheimer's disease and passed away peacefully at his daughter's home in Queensland Australia on Friday.

Max Bygraves made his name in the fifties and sixties and was described by his agent as one of Britain's "best entertainers"

Mr Bygraves, who was awarded an OBE in 1982 was six weeks off celebrating his 90th birthday. He had emigrated to Australia from Bournemouth in 2005.

The veteran entertainer made his name as a comedian in the fifties and sixties, often appearing in the London Palladium.

Max Bygraves also presented the gameshow Family Fortunes

His agent Johnny Mans told the BBC "We have lost one of the best entertainers that Britain has ever produced. He was a friend to everyone, there were no airs and graces."

He added: "His death is a great loss to the entertainment industry."

Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh are greeted by Max Bygraves and the Beverley Sisters at the Broadway Theatre in Catford for her Golden Jubilee

Broadcaster Ed Stewart said his friend was a "unique talent" who "gave a lot of pleasure to a lot of people".

The former radio presenter told BBC News: "He as a person never dated.

"He was a great character with a great sense of humour, a lovely family and it's just a shame that he's gone, but at nearly 90, he had a good run.

"He was a unique talent, and everything he sang and everything he did, just about, made money for him and the family.

"Like everybody else in those days, he was viewed with a lot of respect. He was an entertainer through and through.

"There were one or two others at the time but Max was the doyen of them all, and this likeable lad was just on everybody's radio sets in the days of the BBC when you only had the live programmes.

"Those programmes and those records of his gave a lot of pleasure to a lot of people and were huge sellers."

Entertainer Max Bygraves at the launch of his "Best of British" CD on which he sings with the Central Band of The Royal British Legion.

Mr Mans said Bygraves had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's two years ago.

"He had become confused and often wasn't sure where he was," he said.

"He was in good health otherwise but would have turned 90 on October 16 so was pretty ancient.

"We were hoping to do a big concert for him soon.

"He wasn't just an artist to me, he was a real friend."