'Bye darlin Bluey' | Vicar of Dibley star and Spike Milligan collaborator John Bluthal dies at 89

'Bye darlin Bluey'

Vicar of Dibley star and Spike Milligan collaborator John Bluthal dies at 89

John Bluthal, best known for playing dull parish council secretary Frank Pickle in The Vicar of Dibley, has died at the age of 89.

But his role in the Dawn French sitcom was just the latest in an illustrious comedy career.

Born in Poland he was raised in Australia, where he began an enduring working relationship with Spike Milligan, appearing with him in a 1958 TV special, The Gladys Half-Hour, and several radio shows.

He moved to Britain in 1960, at the age of 30, when he appeared in the Sid James sitcom  Citizen James.

In 1963 he was reunited with Milligan for the absurd London play The Bed-Sitting Room, which the former Goon had written with John Antrobus.

In 1967, he starred in the ITV comedy series Never Mind The Quality, Feel the Width, playing Manny Cohen, a Jewish London tailor in business with a Catholic Irishman. It ran for six series until 1971.

Other TV appearances include Sykes And A..., Tony Hancock's classic Radio Ham episode, The Goodies,  'Allo 'Allo!, Jonathan Creek and many more.

He was also in three Carry On films, two of the Doctor films,  two of the Pink Panther films, The Beatles' films A Hard Day's Night and Help! as well as Milligan's The Great McGonagall.

His agent Artists Partnership confirmed today: 'We’re sad to announce our wonderful client John Bluthal has passed away. Our thoughts are with his family at this time. John provided us all with years of laughter and entertainment. We will miss John hugely'

And French paid tribute to her Dibley co-star on Twitter, writing: ‘Tons of happy laughs remembered today. Cheeky, naughty, hilarious. Bye darlin Bluey.’

Published: 17 Nov 2018

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