Comedien Don Estelle died yesterday aged 70. The Manchester-born star of the seventies BBC sitcom It Ain't Half Hot Mum died at Rochdale Infirmary.
The 4ft 9in actor's role as gunner "Lofty" Sugden in the show made him a household name and spawned the successful single "Whispering Grass", which has sold more than a millions copies.
He recorded the song with Windsor Davies, who also played a lead role in It Ain't Half Hot Mum. The pair recorded an album together, Sing Lofty, which became one of EMI's best-selling albums.
Don Estelle's short physical stature meant that he was overlooked for leading romantic roles, so he turned to comedy as a way to have his talent as a singer noticed.
His career in television took off when he played a role delivering a naval gun to the platoon in the BBC sitcon Dad's Army.
He continued to perform throughout his sixties, including a cameo role as "Don" the actor in the award-winning comedy A League of Gentleman.
Estelle published his autobiography Thoughts of a Gemini in late 1999.
His widow, Elizabeth, said last night: "He lived absolutely for his showbiz career."Reuse content