Vicar of Dibley and Pink Panther actor John Bluthal dies aged 89

The Polish-born actor – who also appeared in three Carry On films and two Pink Panther entries – was described by the comedy favourite as a “hilarious” talent.

She posted on Twitter: “Tons of happy laughs remembered today. Cheeky, naughty, hilarious. Bye darlin Bluey.”

Her post was accompanied by a picture of Bluthal in the popular British sitcom, in which he played parish council secretary Frank Pickle.

Before making his debut in the series, he had enjoyed roles in a number of big screen productions, including the unofficial 1967 James Bond film Casino Royale, The Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night and Help, and Superman III.

His final movie appearance came in the 2016 Coen Brothers’ comedy Hail, Caesar!, which boasted an all-star cast featuring George Clooney, Josh Brolin, Ralph Fiennes, Scarlett Johansson and Tilda Swinton.

During the early part of his acting career, Bluthal held a number of high-profile roles in British theatre, including the part of Fagin in the original West End production of Oliver in 1960.

He had only moved to the UK that year, having emigrated to Australia with his family in 1938 and gone on to study drama at the University of Melbourne.

Confirming news of his death, talent agency The Artist’s Partnership said: “We’re sad to announce our wonderful client John Bluthal has passed away.

“Our thoughts are with his family at this time. John provided us all with years of laughter and entertainment. We will miss John hugely.”

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