Tributes pour in as Beryl Reid dies at 76 after pneumonia

Beryl Reid, the much-loved comedy actress with a love of men and "toff's lemonade" - champagne - died yesterday, aged 76.

Tributes poured in last night for the actress, considered one of Britain's most versatile performers, whose long and varied career took her from music hall comedienne to the National Theatre. Barbara Windsor, who recalled much drinking of champagne and laughter when they worked together said: "She was a very talented lady, superb, one of the greatest and best."

The actor, Ian Bannen, who starred alongside her with Sir Alec Guinness in the television version of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy, said: "Beryl had such a wonderful range of emotion: She will leave an enormous hole in the British theatre."

Reid won a lifetime achievement award at the British Comedy Awards in 1991, Bafta best actress award in 1983 for the series Smiley's People, and an OBE in 1986.

Among her most controversial roles was as a lesbian in the controversial 1968 film, The Killing of Sister George.

She had numerous affairs and a risque sense of humour. When friends arrived unexpectedly and she did not feel sociable, she told them: "Oh, I'm terribly sorry I can't ask you in because, you see, I'm in bed with someone I don't know terribly well."

In later life, she lived alone with a collection of stray cats at her home in Berkshire. She had been ill with pneumonia.