Comic actor and writer Mel Smith has died of a heart attack, aged 60, his agent has confirmed.
The British comedian – known for the sketch shows Alas Smith and Jones and Not The Nine O’clock News – died at his home on Friday, Michael Foster said.
Smith formed a lasting partnership with co-performer Griff Rhys Jones with whom he set up the independent television company, Talkback Productions.
His producer John Lloyd described him as a great actor and wonderful editor.
In a statement on behalf of his wife, Pam, Mr Foster said: “Mel Smith, comedian and writer, died on Friday aged 60, from a heart attack at his home in north west London.”
A London Ambulance spokeswoman said: “We were called just after 09:07 BST on Friday 19 July to an address in NW8 and sent two responders in cars, but sadly the patient was dead at the scene.”
Life was always exciting around Mel”
Peter Fincham ITV director of television
‘Contribution will never go away’
Meanwhile, friends and colleagues have paid tribute to Smith.
Comedian and broadcaster Stephen Fry wrote on Twitter: “Terrible news about my old friend Mel Smith, dead today from a heart attack. Mel lived a full life, but was kind, funny and wonderful to know.”
Author Kathy Lette said: “RIP Mel Smith. Sorry to bring sad and bad news, but apparently he died from heart attack in his sleep.”
Writer Irvine Welsh tweeted: “Sad to hear about the death of Mel Smith, who gave me loads of laughs.”
Not the Nine O’clock News producer, Mr Lloyd, told the BBC his friend had been ill for some time.
“Mel did an extraordinary thing – he taught us all how to make comedy natural. He was a brilliant theatre director… Not only was he a great actor, he was a wonderful editor.”
The production company founded by Smith and Griff Rhys Jones went on to make a number of iconic comedies, among them Da Ali G Show, I’m Alan Partrdige and Never Mind the Buzzcocks.
“What that did is produce a gigantic raft of new material,” Mr Lloyd said. “That, I think, is a contribution that will never go away.”
The pair sold the company for £62m in 2000.
Their business partner and agent at Talkback, ITV director of television Peter Fincham, said Smith had “extraordinary natural talent”.
“Life was always exciting around Mel,” he said. “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.”
What are your memories of Mel Smith? Did you meet him or work with him?