Actor and comedian John Bird dies aged 86

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John Bird, the British satirist and actor, has died aged 86, his comedy partner has confirmed.

Bird was known for his work on classic satirical programmes such as That Was The Week That Was, and for his collaboration with fellow comedians John Fortune and Roy Bremnar on the Channel 4 series Bremner, Bird and Fortune.

Bremner led tributes to his former comic partner, who it was confirmed passed away on Christmas Eve.

In an online message he hailed Bird as “One of the most modest of men and most brilliant of satirists”, noting that he was also “one of the last surviving pillars of the anti-establishment”.

Bremnar added in a statement:  “It’s an irony that one of our greatest satirists, so brilliant at portraying ministers, civil servants or high-ranking officials who exuded self-satisfaction, was himself so modest and self-effacing.

“John Bird was, to the end, never pleased with himself, always feeling he should have done better, been less lazy, had a late period like Brahms, ‘where everything was spare and abstract’.

“The reality was that he and his friend and collaborator John Fortune, together with Peter Cook, were pillars of the anti-establishment.”

The Cambridge-educated Bird became best-known for his mock interviews with fellow stars Fortune for the 90’s sketches The Long Johns, during which one of the pair would play a hopeless politician, high-ranking officer, or businessman.

They were nominated for four Baftas and won the TV award for their performance in 1997. Fortune died in 2013.

Bremner said that witnessing the pair’s work was  the “highlight” of his life and he would “marvel at the genius of it all”.

Bird also made appearances in fantasy comedy film Jabberwocky, comedy shows Yes, Prime Minister, One Foot In The Grave and detective shows Jonathan Creek, Inspector Morse and Midsomer Murders.

His career began with the Cambridge Footlights Revue, where he directed the likes of comedian Peter Cook, before he moved on to the Royal Court Theatre.

He is survived by his wife Libby, a concert pianist, along with his step-sons Dan and Josh.

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