Norman Wisdom dies

Comic actor dies aged 95

by Jennie Kermode and Max Crawford

The actor Sir Norman Wisdom has passed away aged 95 after months of declining health. He was much loved for his work in films like Press For Time and Five Children And It, as well as a distinguished television career, but is perhaps most fondly remembered as hapless everyman Norman Pikin in films such as The Square Peg and A Stitch In Time. His distinctive brand of slapstick led to him being called the British answer to Charlie Chaplin, whilst Chaplin himself said that Wisdom was his "favourite clown".

Wisdom began his career entertaining his army colleagues in the Thirties. A chance meeting with Rex Harrison, who was greatly impressed by his work, led him to try his luck as a theatre actor, shortly progressing to the small screen. A BAFTA soon followed as he began a film career that would see him become a star in the US as well as his homeland of Britain. Bizarrely, his greatest fame came in Albania, where his films were among very few Western works which the state censors allowed to be distributed. In 2000 he was knighted, and was unable to resist a comedy stumble as he left the room, which reportedly much amused the Queen.

Wisdom married twice and is survived by his two children and several grandchildren. He suffered a series of strokes which eventually led to a peaceful death in the nursing home where he resided on the Isle of Man.

"He was one of few childhood heroes that really lived up to being met in real life," said the lyricist Tim Rice, recalling their work together. "He was just a delightful man, and very funny."

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