arry On and Harry Potter star Leslie Phillips CBE has died, aged 98.
Phillips died “peacefully in his sleep yesterday”, his agent Jonathan Lloyd has confirmed to the PA news agency.
In tribute, his wife Zara, 63, said: “I’ve lost a wonderful husband and the public has lost a truly great showman. He was quite simply a national treasure. People loved him. He was mobbed everywhere he went.
“When we married he cheekily introduced me to the Press as royalty, insisting I was the new Zara Phillips and that I was related to the Queen.”
The London actor is often associated with the Carry On films, of which he appeared in five – including Carry on Nurse, Carry on Teachers, Carry On Constable.
He became well known for his suggestive catchphrases which included “Ding Dong”, “Well, hello” and “I Say!”.
He rose to prominence again later in life, voicing the Sorting Hat in the Harry Potter franchise and starring in BBC Radio’s sitcom, The Navy Lark, alongside the likes of Ronnie Barker and Jon Pertwee.
The star appeared in more than 200 films, TV and radio series in a career that spanned more than eight decades, the Rolling Stone reports.
Phillips had a long battle with illness after he previously survived a stroke and seizure at the age of 90.
He was made an OBE in the 1998 Birthday Honours and was promoted to CBE in the 2008 New Year Honours.
Phillips began to get leading roles on the stage and screen from the early 1950s and made success with his foxy charm in Brothers In Law, The Smallest Show On Earth and The Man Who Liked Funerals.
In that film he played the star role of a man who blackmailed the bereaved in a good cause.
He became well known for his appearances in the Doctor films, as well as in a series of fast-moving comedies that teamed him with Scots comedian and impressionist Stanley Baxter.
Within the space of five years Phillips had made 18 starring comedies, but the output of comedy from British studios had suddenly become quite restricted during the 1960s.
He returned to films in the late 1980s in largely comedy character roles. Like most of his contemporaries, he did a stint in Hollywood, but he preferred Britain.
“I could have stayed,” he said once, “but I am a Londoner through and through. I want to go everywhere, but I will always want to live in London. So I came back.”
It was in the mid-1980s that he decided to become a serious actor. He joined the Royal Shakespeare Company and played roles such as Falstaff in The Merry Wives Of Windsor.
In December 2013, Phillips, aged 89, married Zara Carr, his third wife. He suffered a stroke while on a shopping trip with his wife in London in August 2014.
A few months later, Phillips was again admitted to hospital after suffering a seizure.
Tributes are flowing for the actor, including from Morris Bright MBE, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Tony Maudsley and Stuart Antony.
Bhaskar tweeted: “One of the wonderful elements of doing The Kumars at No 42 was combining guests like here, Madness and the wonderful Leslie Phillips, who couldn’t have been more of a gent.
“A truly warm, funny and gentle man.”