Tributes flow for Paul Eddington, 'a brave man and a fine actor'

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The Independent Online
The worlds of showbusiness and politics yesterday paid glowing tribute to the star of Yes, Prime Minister, Paul Eddington, who has died after a brave battle against skin cancer.

Baroness Thatcher, who as Prime Minister enjoyed the show so much that she made him a CBE in 1987, said: "Paul Eddington was an essential part of that magnificent team of actors who brought Anthony Jay and Jonathan Lynn's superb scripts to life, and who made Yes Minister and Yes Prime Minister such an enormous success."

Eddington, 68, died at his London home on Saturday night, surrounded by his wife, Patricia, and their four children, from a rare form of skin cancer which had disfigured his face with dark blotches.

His co-star Nigel Hawthorne, who played scheming civil servant Sir Humphrey to Eddington's bumbling politician Jim Hacker, paid a moving tribute to "my good friend Paul".

He said: "Firstly, he was the bravest man I ever met; he never seemed to complain about his poor health, and he had been ill for many years, but always bore it with dignity and humour.

"In the Yes Prime Minister series in which we were involved for 10 years, Derek Fowlds, he and I never had an angry word. There was always a wonderful spirit of harmony and good nature when we were working."

Yes Minister co-star, Derek Fowlds, told BBC Radio 5 Live: "He was a great actor and he has shown such strength and courage over the last 10 years ... He was greatly loved."

Penelope Keith and Richard Briers, who starred with him in the television comedy The Good Life, remembered him as a brave man and a fine actor.

Miss Keith, who played his screen wife Margo, told Radio 5 Live: "It is a very sad day for many people who enjoyed his work so much on the television, but especially for lots of us who were very close friends.

"I first met Paul when we started The Good Life 20 years ago ... we laughed so much. When I think of Paul I shall remember his chuckle."

Briers, a close friend, said: "I don't think I've known a more smashing bloke in all my years in showbusiness. He always dealt with his problems with humour and tenacity."

A fellow Garrick Club member, Derek Nimmo, also paid tribute to Eddington's sense of humour, saying the club was always "particularly convivial" when he was there.

Eddington had suffered from skin cancer for 40 years, calling it "a thorough nuisance", but was always a hard-working actor even though national fame in The Good Life came late - he was 47 when it began. It went on to become one of the biggest comedy successes, only to be succeeded by Yes Minister.

Eddington's last West End stage appearance was last year with Richard Briers in Home, about two bewildered old men in a mental institution, which won rave reviews at Wyndham's Theatre. Just two weeks ago he launched his autobiography So Far, So Good, when he said he hoped his epitaph would be "he didn't harm anyone and that is a difficult thing to do".

He also said: "There's a stigma attached to one's appearance. People are reluctant to shake hands with you if they see you festering, and you can understand it." But he carried on working and only recently played Justice Shallow in a BBC production of Henry IV.

Sydney Lotterby, producer of Yes Minister and Yes Prime Minister, said he was a dedicated, self-effacing actor "whose unselfish attitude to his fellows reflected his personal and professional life. He was a joy to work with and will be sadly missed".

Eddington's family said they wished to "thank everyone for their many messages of support" and announced that there will be a private family funeral at a date to be arranged.