'It Ain't Half Hot Mum' star dies

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The Independent Online

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."