Comedy actor Felix Dexter dies aged 52

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Tributes were paid today to British comedian and actor Felix Dexter who has died of cancer, aged 52.

The entertainer had been suffering from multiple myeloma, a type of bone marrow cancer.

Dexter was born in St Kitts, in the Caribbean, before moving to London at the age of seven with his family.

Before entering the entertainment industry he studied law, which his website said was "extremely useful in his stand-up comedy career, enabling him to stun hecklers into silence with shouts of 'objection!'"

Dexter first rose to prominence on the comedy circuit in the 1990s BBC series The Real McCoy. He also had roles in Absolutely Fabulous and was the first black comedian to get a regular slot at London's Comedy Store.

His characters and comedic sketches have also been featured on The Lenny Henry Show and The Fast Show.

Close friend and radio presenter Eddie Nestor paid tribute to Dexter, saying he kept his sense of humour even in his final hours.

"It's quite weird, you're going to see somebody being diagnosed with a terminal illness and you find yourself laughing, really hard," he told BBC Radio's Up All Night programme.

"It was great to be able to spend some time with him. (I was) lying with somebody on their death bed and they're still making jokes."

Nestor said although Dexter was on pain medication, his mind was still sharp and he seemed "really upbeat"."You try to hold it together when you're in there, but when you come out of that room, it's a different gig," he said.

Colleagues, fans and friends have taken to social media to pay homage to the pioneering entertainer.

British actor Simon Pegg said Dexter "was one of my first stable mates @dawnsedgwickmgt. Very sad to hear news of his passing. Very funny man."

Actor David Morrissey said he had worked with Felix and said he was "such a funny, talented and generous man."

Fellow comedian Sean Hughes wrote: "So so sad to hear about the truly wonderful Felix Dexter passing away. I hope you can feel the love in the comedy community fella. Rip."

Actor David Schneider remembered Felix's popular character Nathaniel the Accountant on The Real McCoy, which he was perhaps best known for. "Lovely, lovely guy," he posted. "And I think nothing on TV has ever made me laugh more than his Real McCoy Nigerian character."

Marcus Brigstoke said Dexter was "much loved, much respected and will be much missed", and Dara O'Brian said he was "so sad" to hear of his death.

Dexter was once named Time Out Comedian of The Year. He also performed a season with the Royal Shakespeare Company. More recently, Dexter featured in the BBC series Citizen Khan.

BBC's UK comedy production controller Mark Freeland said the comedy community had lost "a hugely popular, pioneering, naturally funny and thoroughly modest actor and comedian".

"The outpouring of affection today is testament to a lovely, gracious man, seemingly happy to be in the background, but effortlessly and deservedly very much in the comedy foreground," Mr Freeland said.

"Many performers will feel today as if they've lost a part of the family."

Additional reporting by Press Association