John Bird dead: Legendary comic dies 'peacefully' aged 86

Comedian John Bird has died at the age of 86 peacefully at home.
Comedian John Bird has died at the age of 86 peacefully at home.

John Bird became known for sketches performed alongside John Fortune and Rory Bremner in Channel 4’s satirical show Bremner, Bird And Fortune

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Comedian John Bird has died aged 86 peacefully at a care home.

Bird became known for sketches performed alongside John Fortune and Rory Bremner in Channel 4’s satirical show Bremner, Bird And Fortune.

A statement announcing Bird’s death said he died “peacefully” at Pendean care home and that a family funeral will be followed by a celebration of his life in the new year.

Scottish impressionist Bremner, 61, wrote: “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.”

Bremner said it was “striking” Bird had died on Christmas Eve “nine years, almost to the day” after Fortune, who died aged 74 on New Year’s Eve in 2013.

“Lord knows, satire has missed them this last decade and now that loss is permanent,” he added.

“John may not have felt he got his life right, but by God he got it written.”

Bird and Fortune became household names with their The Long Johns comedy skits, in which the double-act played bumbling politicians, military figures and businessmen.

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

A statement announcing Bird’s death said he died “peacefully” at Pendean care home and that a family funeral will be followed by a celebration of his life in the new year.
A statement announcing Bird’s death said he died “peacefully” at Pendean care home and that a family funeral will be followed by a celebration of his life in the new year.

Bird, born in Nottingham, went to a grammar school before going to Cambridge and meeting his comedy partner Fortune.

While there, he also directed comedian Peter Cook and actress Eleanor Bron in the 1959 Cambridge Footlights Revue, an annual show by the university comedy club which has seen David Mitchell, Richard Ayoade and Eric Idle among its members.

Bird then joined the Royal Court Theatre as an assistant director, hosted the first episode of Beyond The Fringe, directed Austrian-American singer Lotte Lenya in a Brecht revue and opened nightclub the Establishment Club with Cook in London, and New York.

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

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