Windsor Davies: It Ain't Half Hot Mum actor dies aged 88

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Video caption Windsor Davies (right) with Christopher Mitchell in It Ain't Half Hot Mum

Actor and star of It Ain't Half Hot Mum, Windsor Davies, has died.

Davies, 88, who was best known as the sergeant major in the TV series, died on Thursday, his family said.

Born in Canning Town, London, he returned to his father's home village, Nantymoel in Bridgend county, when World War Two broke out.

His daughter Jane Davies said he and her mother, who died in September, left a family "who will all remember them with love, laughter and gratitude".

The couple, who were married for 62 years, had retired to France. They had five children.

Image caption Windsor Davies (middle) alongside Don Estelle and Melvyn Hayes in It Ain't Half Hot Mum

It Ain't Half Hot Mum co-star Melvyn Hayes, who played Gunner/Bombardier Gloria Beaumont, called him "one of the good guys".

Paying tribute to Davies, he said: "I considered him my best friend, even though we hadn't been in contact for many years.

"To work with him was a pleasure, a sheer delight because he was so generous in his work.

"You couldn't buy him a drink because you'd go into a public house and they'd say 'Windsor has put some money behind the counter for you'.

"He was nothing like the character he played - he was a charming, quietly-spoken, gentle human being."

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Davies and It Ain't Half Hot Mum co-star Don Estelle also enjoyed a number one hit in 1975 when they recorded a version of Whispering Grass in character, a novelty hit which sold more than one million copies.

Blackadder star Sir Tony Robinson paid tribute to Davies by quoting lyrics from Whispering Grass, while Downton Abbey actor Paul Putner said he was a "gifted actor" and "one of most generous, lovely blokes you could ever wish to meet".

'Allo 'Allo and Emmerdale star Vicki Michelle shared a picture of herself with Davies and tweeted he was one of her "favourite people", and a "genuinely lovely generous man" with a "huge presence and a huge heart".

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The Veterans Charity tweeted : "RIP Windsor Davies, a National Serviceman who served in Egypt and Libya with the East Surrey Regiment."

Davies also starred alongside Donald Sinden as two rival antique dealers in the long-running ITV sitcom Never The Twain.

Although overshadowed by It Ain't Half Hot Mum, it ran for more than 60 episodes.

In 1978, Davies also featured in one-off BBC comedy Grand Slam , which gained cult status and was still fondly remembered years later - gaining a new lease of life with a DVD release.

Referencing his character in the film, Welsh screen star Michael Sheen tweeted: "'Go the whole hog, Mog!' He most certainly did. Mined a golden seam of barely contained Welsh fury to glorious effect."

Davies, who retired from acting in his 70s, was also the voice of Sergeant Major Zero in the 1980s sci-fi series Terrahawks. As well as stage appearances, he had roles in more than 20 films, including two Carry Ons.

But he will be remembered most fondly for playing Battery Sergeant Major "Shut Up" Williams in It Ain't Half Hot Mum, which ran for 56 episodes between 1974 and 1981.

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