I'm genuinely heartbroken to hear of the death of veteran comic Sir Norman Wisdom, star of film, Broadway, composer, singer, clown and a wonderfully silly, funny man. He was 95, but one of those people who, through sheer likeability and a seemingly endless, infectious energy for life you expected to live forever. He only announced his retirement from show business on his 90th birthday and, despite that, was performing right up until 2008, despite his the onset of dementia. He must have been well into his sixties when I saw him as a child and he was a bundle of energy then, still doing pratfalls and his own brand of physical comedy.
I think you'll be hard pressed to find anyone who'll say a bad word about him tonight - he appears to have been adored by everyone he worked with and friends he made, up to and including the royal family. Although he may not have made friends during his stint in the army during WWII when, after he was disciplined for calling Winston Churchill 'Winnie' on one of the occasions they met. He worked tirelessly for many charities throughout his life. The slapstick films he made in the 50s and 60s led to Charlie Chaplin calling him "my favourite clown".
He even wrote the lyrics to (There'll Be Bluebirds Over) The White Cliffs of Dover, which, by itself would be an incredible contribution to British culture.
And not just Britain. Wisdom was a god in Albania, where he was the only Western actor whose movies were allowed into the country during the dictatorship of Enver Hoxha and took his cult status with typical good humour.
So, not just a national treasure, then, but an international one.
Rest in peace, Sir Norman. You truly were one of a kind.