British comic actor Paul Shane has died today after a short illness, reports Sky News.
He was 72 years old, and his agent said that the sitcom star was in the presence of close friends and family when he passed away in a hospice in Rotherham, his hometown in South Yorkshire, on Thursday.
Shane was a fixture on British TV, becoming a household name for his role as the holiday camp host Ted Bovis in the BBC sitcom Hi-de-Hi! throughout the 1980s.
Born in 1940, Shane worked as a coal miner until age 27. An accident left him with double herniated discs and ended that career, according to the Express, and prompted a switch into the entertainment business.
He performed in pubs and clubs in Yorkshire until a role in the TV show Coronation Street caught the eye of producers, leading the way to fame on Hi-de-Hi!. Shane went on to play roles on other British shows like You Rang M'Lord? and Oh, Dr Beeching! throughout the 90s.
Shane's wife Dory died in 2001, and three daughters and six grandchildren survive him.
Colleagues spoke highly of the comedian, and many on Twitter lamented his loss.
In a statement, his agent Linda Kremer called him "a consummate professional, a true gentleman, a good friend, and a joy to work with," adding that he "always maintained his sense of humour, never stinted on the time he gave to his fans."
"RIP Paul Shane," said comedian Ricky Gervais on Twitter. "Old school Britcom hero."
Shane's Heart Bypass Surgery
In May 2009, Shane underwent a life-saving heart bypass surgery in order to reverse his hardened arteries, reported the Sheffield Telegraph.
Coronary bypass surgery is a serious and invasive procedure, in which surgeons cut open the chest cavity and stop the heart while the patient is connected to a heart-lung bypass machine. The doctors take arteries or veins from other parts of the body to graft a "bypass" around blocked arteries, allowing blood to flow smoothly through the heart.
Shane's surgeons at the Sheffield Northern General Hospital had initially expected a double heart bypass, and the actor expressed uncertainty about the procedure while admitting its necessity.
"If I didn't have this operation I could be dead in 12-months-or I could last 10 years. You don't know. But I'm not taking that risk," said Paul to The Star.
"There wasn't any telltale signs really. I actually feel as fit as a fiddle. But I collapsed about 18 months ago so I went to see a heart specialist and an angiogram showed I've got narrowing of the arteries. I'm either having two or four bypasses-they won't know, until the operation."
It turned out to be a triple bypass surgery, reported The Sun, meaning that three blockages to blood flow through the heart needed to be bypassed.
"It will make a lot of difference to my quality of life," he said before the surgery. "That's what everyone who's had it has said to me, including a lot of my friends in showbiz. Doctors say this can put another 10 to 15 years on your life."
Shane recovered from the heart bypass, and the surgery gave him four more years until illness claimed him today.