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Corbett 'had motor neurone disease'

BBC News BBC News 1/04/2016
Ronnie Corbett © BBC Ronnie Corbett

Ronnie Corbett's wife has revealed the star had been battling suspected motor neurone disease before he died.

Ronnie Corbett and his wife Anne Hart: Ronnie Corbett's wife Anne Hart is an actress © Getty Images Ronnie Corbett's wife Anne Hart is an actress

Anne Hart told The Daily Mail he had been diagnosed in March 2015 after he "started to feel unwell and found it hard to breathe and to lie down" around Christmas 2014.

She told the newspaper only family and close friends knew of his illness.

"He was not in pain, and up to the last 48 hours, he was fully conscious and aware of everything." she said.

On Tuesday, Corbett went into a coma after his oxygen levels dropped and he was taken to Shirley Oaks Hospital in Croydon where he died on Thursday morning at the age of 85.

"Throughout his whole illness, he never once grumbled or complained. No one could have been more courageous," she told the newspaper.

Reaction to Ronnie Corbett's death

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Only close friends were told about Corbett's illness - Jimmy Tarbuck was one of them.

"Yes I did know he wasn't very well and I knew exactly what he had," he told Good Morning Britain.

"He said I love you but I don't want you see me like this. But I would speak to him on the phone."

More tributes have been paid to the entertainer overnight from across the entertainment world.

Glam rock singer Alice Cooper issued a statement about the loss of Corbett.

"Even Americans know who Ronnie Corbett is. I was fortunate to do a few talk shows with him over the years.

"I became his 'flatmate' in a commercial, and even played golf with him. The Two Ronnies are reunited in a better place. Heaven is better than London, isn't it?"

Singer Robbie Williams tweeted a photo of his tattoo of two pairs of glasses inspired by the Two Ronnies.

"You inspired me at a very young age. THANK YOU. You'll always be with me," he tweeted.

Warwick Davis also paid tribute.

Stephen Merchant, who worked with Corbett on Extras with Ricky Gervais, also posted a photo joking about his diminutive stature.

Eddie Izzard tweeted: "Very sorry to hear Ronnie Corbett has gone. I feel privileged to have met him and his comedy speaks for itself."

While Rory Bremner tweeted: "Just heard sad news about Ronnie Corbett. The smallest giant of British Comedy, with the best timing of all. A sweet, lovely man too."

Lionel Blair was a friend who had worked with Corbett earlier in his career and, more recently, in a sketch show written by David Walliams.

He told BBC Breakfast, Corbett was the perfect person to work alongside.

"He was so precise, everything he did was absolutely spot on and that wonderful Edinburgh London accent that he had - it was just genius.

"And though he was small he was a giant in showbusiness and will be sorely missed.

"He was always a consummate professional - everything he did - if he was the feed he'd do it perfectly so the comic got the laugh

"He wasn't jealous of anybody he would do his bit and they would do their bit and it would come together magically."

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