Ronnie Corbett had been battling motor neurone disease for over a year, his wife has revealed.
The TV legend died on Thursday surrounded by his family at the age of 85, just a month before he would have celebrated his golden wedding anniversary.
His illness, which only his family and close friends knew about, began around Christmas 2014, when, in the words of Anne, “he started to feel unwell and found it hard to breathe and to lie down”.
Motor Neuron Disease (or ALS) damages parts of the nervous system, meaning that breathing and other muscle activities can become increasingly difficult.
Anne told The Daily Mail: “As you can imagine, it just knocked us both back. We had not really heard of it.
After a check-up with a consultant cardiologist, the comedian started to use a small ventilator machine which would aid his breathing, which Anne said “transformed things” for the star.
Anne then took it in turns with daughters Emma, 48, and Sophie, 47, to nurse Ronnie around the clock.
Following his death, Anne paid tribute to her "courageous" husband.
Tributes flooded in for the ‘Two Ronnies’ star after his death was announced.
David Walliams said it had been “the greatest honour to know and work” with Ronnie, while Julian Clary said he was “a master of his craft and a huge star”.
Ricky Gervais referred to him as a “lovely, funny legend” and actor Russell Crowe thanked him “for all the laughs”.