Sean Lock: Comedian and 8 Out of 10 Cats captain dies aged 58

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Media caption,

Bill Bailey says his friend and fellow comedian Sean Lock was a “brilliant comic”

Comedian Sean Lock has died from cancer at the age of 58, his agent has confirmed.

A comedy panel show favourite, Lock was a team captain on the series 8 Out of 10 Cats, hosted by Jimmy Carr.

He also appeared on QI, The Last Leg, Have I Got News for You, and The Big Fat Quiz of the Year.

Paying tribute, comedian Bill Bailey said: "It's heartbreaking to lose my dearest friend Sean Lock, he was a true original, a wonderful comic."

Jon Richardson, who appeared opposite Lock as a fellow team captain on 8 Out of 10 Cats, tweeted: "I idolised Sean as a comic long before I became a comedian myself and 10 years working alongside him didn't diminish that in the least. An incredible comic brain and a truly unique voice."

'Genuinely hilarious'

A statement from his agent Off The Kerb Productions said: "It is with great sadness that we have to announce the death of Sean Lock. He died at home from cancer, surrounded by his family.

"Sean was one of Britain's finest comedians, his boundless creativity, lightning wit and the absurdist brilliance of his work, marked him out as a unique voice in British comedy.

"Sean was also a cherished husband and father to three children. Sean will be sorely missed by all that knew him. We kindly request that the privacy of his family and children is respected at this difficult time."

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Following the announcement author, TV producer and Pointless star Richard Osman tweeted: "Over 15 years producing 8 Out Of 10 Cats, Sean Lock made me laugh so much and so often. A unique and brilliant comic voice. Love to his family and his many friends."

"Sad news about Sean Lock," added stand-up comedian and QI panellist Alan Davies. "Funny on stage, hilarious off."

Comedian and actor Ricky Gervais added: "Such sad news. RIP the great Sean Lock. One of the funniest, most influential comedians of a generation. A lovely man."

Lee Mack, fellow comedian and a close friend of Lock's, described the news of his death as "heartbreaking", adding in a statement: "A true original both in comedy and life. I will miss him so much."

Comedy writer Laura Claxton said: "No one did it like Sean. I got to work with him over the years and seeing his ad libs, improvisation and wit play out first hand like it was the most natural, fluid thing in the world never ceased to astound me.

"A truly hilarious, talented, humble and impressive man. What a loss."

Channel 4 announced it will pay tribute to the comedian Sean Lock with special programming on Thursday night.

The network will air the comedian's stand-up special, Sean Lock: Keep It Light, followed by a classic episode of 8 Out Of 10 Cats Does Countdown, in Lock's memory.

Image source, PA Media

Born in Chertsey, Surrey, Lock left school in the early 1980s and began working on building sites but developed skin cancer, which he blamed on over-exposure to the sun. He recovered and decided to focus on a career in comedy.

Early in his TV career, Lock appeared on the 1993 series Newman and Baddiel in Pieces, alongside fellow comics Rob Newman and David Baddiel.

On Wednesday, Baddiel said: "He made all these characters effortlessly funnier than we had written them. He went on to perform with us on our last tour in 1993, the one that ended in Wembley Arena, and I have great - and very funny - memories of sharing a stage, and a dressing room, with him from that time.

"He was a supremely talented comedian - and a friend I remember with great fondness."

Lock co-wrote the screenplay for the 2001 feature film This Filthy Earth alongside director Andrew Kötting, which was adapted from the 1887 novel La Terre by Émile Zola.

Lock was named best live comic at the British Comedy Award in 2000 and has also previously been nominated for the prestigious Perrier Comedy Award.

In 2006, he presented and produced the Channel 4 series TV Heaven, Telly Hell, in which guests would discuss their likes and dislikes in television.

Guests on the show included Alan Davies, Johnny Vaughan, David Mitchell, Bill Bailey, Johnny Vegas and Nick Hancock.

Image caption,
QI panellist Alan Davies (right) said Sean Lock was "funny on stage, hilarious off"

Lock also appeared at Channel 4's Comedy Gala and co-hosted the Big Fat Quiz of the Year with James Corden in 2008.

He wrote and starred in the popular BBC sitcom 15 Storeys High. The show was set in a tower block and centred on a pessimistic character called Vince (played by Lock) and his flatmate Errol, played by Benedict Wong.

But Lock was best known as a team captain on 8 Out of 10 Cats, the comedy panel show hosted by Jimmy Carr.

The show saw panellists answer questions based on statistics and opinion polls.

The show's title is a reference to famous misquoting of an old advertising strapline for Whiskas cat food, which claimed that "8 out of 10 owners said their cats prefer it".

He appeared on the first 18 series, opposite team captains including Jason Manford and Jon Richardson.

Lock exited the show in 2016 and was replaced by Rob Beckett at the beginning of series 19.

He and Richardson also appeared on the spin-off series 8 Out of 10 Cats does Countdown.

"I wish I had the words to describe the exceptional man that was Sean Lock. But today I don't, and I think he might have liked it that way," tweeted Susie Dent, who features in Countdown's dictionary corner.

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Harry Hill, former host of TV Burp and commentator of You've Been Framed, paid tribute to Lock in an article published in The Guardian.

"At his best, Sean reminded us all what we loved about a great gag and why we got into comedy in the first place. That's why he was so often called "the comedian's comedian", Hill said.

"He took his illness in typically dry style. I heard he was in a hospice for a bit of a rest. I called him up. 'Wow!' I said. 'A hospice, what's that like?' 'It's OK,' he said '… and the sex is amazing.'"

Image caption,
Lock appeared as a guest alongside Katherine Jenkins on The Graham Norton Show

Following the news of his death, Comedian Katy Brand said: "Sean Lock was a brilliant comedian and I always learned something watching him work. Thoughts with his friends and family. Very shocking and sad. RIP."

Presenter Gabby Logan, who has appeared alongside Sean Lock on 8 Out Of 10 Cats, paid tribute to the comedian "who could make your cheeks ache from laughing".

She said on Twitter: "Just awful to hear the news about Sean Lock, I was lucky enough to watch his genius comedy up close when appearing on 8/10 Cats a good few times. Love and light to all of his family and friends."

Former QI host Stephen Fry said: "I think it safe to say that the best episodes of QI that I was involved with were always the ones where Sean Lock was a guest. Such complete brilliance in every comic direction. What a loss. My heart goes out to his family."

John Bishop tweeted: "I am shocked and saddened at the news of the loss of Sean Lock. He was a brilliant comedian but more importantly he was a great person on so many levels . He will be missed hugely."

Kevin Bridges described Lock as "brilliant comedian, obviously, but just a genuinely hilarious guy too and one of the soundest guys in comedy," while Diane Morgan added: "He was one of the funniest people I've ever met. 15 Stories High was was absolute genius. I'll miss him so much."

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