British actor and comedian Sir Norman Wisdom dies aged 95

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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Sir Norman Wisdom as guest of honour at a car rally in Peel, Isle of Man (2005)

Tributes are being paid following the announcement late last night that the veteran British actor and comedian Sir Norman Wisdom has died at the age of 95.

He passed away peacefully at the Abbot's Wood nursing home, Ballasalla, Isle of Man yesterday evening. Following a series of strokes over the last 6 months, his health had declined severely.

Sir Norman's career spanned almost seven decades, during which time he starred in 19 films, and 38 sitcoms, most as the inept character "Pitkin", the persistant thorn in the side of his boss, Mr. Grimsdale. His most well known serious role came in the television play Going Gently in 1981, for ITV, in which he played a patient in hospital suffering from terminal cancer.

Following the news, the Albanian Ambassador in the UK, Zef Mazi explained that Sir Norman's death was covered on all the news channels in Albania, where he was exceptionally popular. His material was the only Western-style comedy permitted to be shown in the Communist country. "After Charlie Chaplin, he was the biggest comedy star in Albania. I still remember his character Pitkin and his boss Mr Grimsdale," he said. "He was very popular with everyone from very young people to very old people and he made us laugh at a time, in the communist period, when there were not many reasons to laugh."

The Isle of Man's Chief Minister, Tony Brown MHK, said that he was "deeply saddened" to have heard of the death. He is quoted as having said "[w]e were very fortunate indeed that Sir Norman chose to make the Isle of Man his home. He was a wonderful asset to the local community and made a tremendous contribution to countless Island charities and good causes."

He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in her conferred role as Lord of Mann on his 90th birthday in 2005, at the same time being made a Freeman of the Borough of Douglas.

The announcement of Sir Norman's death was confirmed by his son and family in a statement last night.


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