British actor Sam Kelly, best known for his roles in Allo Allo and Porridge, has died at the age of 70.
The Manchester-born star’s agent Lynda Ronan said Kelly died peacefully after a long illness “bravely fought”.
She said: “He does not leave any family but a host of friends who were his chosen family.”
Former Doctor Who Colin Baker paid tribute on Twitter to his colleague from drama school, describing Kelly as a “lovely, funny, talented chap”.
“Cannot believe that lovely Sam Kelly has died,” he added. “So sad”.
Baker studied alongside Kelly at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art in the 1960s.
Kelly’s agent described his death as great loss to his friends “and the profession”.
A tribute also came from Quadrophenia film actor Phil Davis, who said on Twitter: “So sad to hear that Sam Kelly has died, a wonderful actor, a proper gent and one of the funniest men I ever had the pleasure of working with.”
Kelly played prisoner Bunny Warren in the BBC’s Porridge between 1974 and 1978 and Nazi captain Hans Geering in the first four series of Allo ‘Allo between 1982 and 1987. His other roles include the ITV sitcom Barbara and On the Up, in which he appeared alongside Dennis Waterman and Joan Sims.
Another part saw him play Hitler in 1993 prisoner of war TV comedy drama Stalag Luft, alongside Stephen Fry and Nicholas Lyndhurst.
Paying tribute on Twitter, Fry tweeted: “Very saddened to hear about Sam Kelly’s death. He played a splendid Hitler”.
Kelly also had a distinguished theatrical career which saw him take on roles at the National Theatre and Old Vic, But in February he withdrew from his part as the Wizard of Oz in the hit West End play Wicked due to ill health.
Natalie Anderson, who appears in TV soap Emmerdale, tweeted: “Totally devastated to hear of the sad news of my friend and ‘Wizard’ Sam Kelly’s passing!!! A truly wonderful and incredible gentleman!”
And writing on Twitter before he was about to go on stage in the West End stage show Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Robert Lindsay said he would dedicate the performance to Kelly.
He said: “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”.
Sherlock actor Mark Gatiss tweeted: “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”.