Rodney Bewes after dies aged 79

Bewes, whose career spanned an incredible 60 years, passed away this morning and has been remembered as a "true one off".

Geordie duo Ant and Dec featured in a spin-off movie remake of the hit BBC sitcom The Likely Lads back in 2002, with Dec playing Bewes' character Bob. Bewes even made a cameo as a news vendor.

The pair tweeted: "We are very sad to hear of the passing of Rodney Bewes, a fine comic actor who we had the honour of meeting and working with.

"He will live on through Bob Ferris and the brilliant Likely Lads. RIP".

Coronation Street actor Derek Griffiths, who starred in numerous British children's television series in the 1960s, also paid tribute to the star.

Writing on Twitter, he said: "Very sad to hear the news of Rodney Bewes passing away. Brilliant man. Such a sad loss. D x"

A statement issued by Bewes' agent Michelle Braidman on Twitter said: "It is with great sadness that we confirm that our dear client, the much loved actor Rodney Bewes, passed away this morning.

"Rodney was a true one off. We will miss his charm and ready wit."

Bewes would have turned 80 on November 27 and is survived by his four children, Billy, Joe, Tom, and Daisy, and two grandchildren Oscar and Eliza.

Following the success of The Likely Lads, Bewes went on to star in the sequel to the sitcom, Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads, alongside James Bolam, Brigit Forsyth and Sheila Fearn.

At its peak in the 1970s the BBC comedy pulled in 27 million viewers and was famed for its episode in which the lads tried to avoid the football scores.

Asked if he thought that he would be best remembered for the role Bewes once said: "Actually it is the only thing I am remembered for.

"But at least I’m remembered for something."

Bewes, who was born in Bingley, near Bradford, in 1937, always regarded himself as a Yorkshireman, despite moving to Luton at the age of six.

By the time he was 13 he was already drawn to acting and auditioned for the role of Billy Bunter.

Bewes was shortlisted but failed to get the nod. Instead he was given a small part in another BBC drama and encouraged to study drama.

He enrolled at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), but was expelled on his 20th birthday.

The then principal wrote: "I’m afraid Rodney’s talents lie in a direction other than acting."

Undeterred he went on to appear in Dixon of Dock Green and Z Cars but his big break came in 1964 when he was cast in the Likely Lads.

The first programme went out on the new BBC2 channel in December 1964. It was acclaimed by the critics and soon repeated on BBC1.

Two more series followed and by the final episode in 1966 it was being seen in nearly 14 million homes.

The original show was filmed in black and white followed the pair in pursuit of birds, beer and football and ended as they decided to join the Army.

Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads, the sequel filmed in colour between 1973-1974, was even better than the original.

But despite their onscreen chemistry Bewes and Bolam were at loggerheads off it. Bolam even refused to appear when Bewes was honoured by This is Your Life.

Bolam's career continued to flourish whilst Bewes struggled for work.

In one of his last interviews before his death, Bewes pleaded with his former co-star, now 82, to end their 40-year feud.

He told the Mirror in 2015: “I would love to be friends with him, but he doesn’t want to be friends with me,” he said. “I can’t be like Jimmy, I can’t be that angry. We’re different animals.”

Bewes lived his later years in Henley-on-Thames. In 2007 he said: "Wherever I go people still stop me to discuss The Likely Lads.

"Some even ask me whether I mind talking about it after all these years.

"If I minded I’d deserve a swift kick because it was a great show and provided my 15 minutes of fame."

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