Entertainment & Arts

Jeremy Hardy: Comedian and Radio 4 panel star dies aged 57

Jeremy Hardy publicity shot Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Jeremy Hardy first appeared on screen in 1986

Comedian Jeremy Hardy, a regular on BBC Radio 4 panel shows like The News Quiz and I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue, has died of cancer aged 57.

His death was confirmed on Friday by his publicist, Amanda Emery.

Hardy made his name on the comedy circuit in the 1980s, winning the prestigious Perrier Award in 1988 and best live act at the ITV Comedy Awards in 1991.

On TV he appeared on shows like QI and sketch programme Now - Something Else.

In a statement, Hardy's publicist said he died early on Friday and was with his wife and daughter when he died.

"He retained to the end the principles that guided his life; trying to make the world more humane, and to be wonderfully funny," Ms Emery continued.

"He will be enormously missed by so many, who were inspired by him and who laughed with him.

"A fitting memorial will take place, details to be announced soon."

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was among those to mark his passing, saying Hardy had "made us all smile" and "made us all think."

BBC Radio 4 also expressed sadness at the loss of "one of the funniest people around".

Speaking to the BBC on Friday, impressionist Rory Bremner remembered his friend as "a kind and compassionate man" who "cared more for people and causes than fame and fortune".

"He was unique in the way he delivered thoughtful, intelligent comedy," he continued, revealing Hardy had been "ill for a few months" and that "very few people" had known about it.

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Media captionRory Bremner on Jeremy Hardy: "He cared so much more for people and causes than for fame and fortune"

Comic and friend Jack Dee told the BBC Hardy "spoke fluent comedy", adding: "He could take any subject and make it funny".

When asked if he could recall a moment that stood out, he said: "I remember dropping him at the hospital at one of his earlier appointments.

"He told the staff: 'This is my friend Jack, he's on work experience for when he gets cancer'."

Blackadder appearance

Born in Farnborough in Hampshire, in 1961, Hardy studied modern history and politics at the University of Southampton before embarking on his stand-up career.

From the outset, he worked his socialist politics into his topical act.

He made his television debut in 1986 in Now - Something Else, an early vehicle for Bremner. Hardy was a featured writer and also played the role of Jeremy the Trainee.

Hardy also appeared as Corporal Perkins in an episode of the BBC comedy Blackadder Goes Forth in 1989. Seven years later, he presented an episode of Top of the Pops.

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Media captionJeremy Hardy "could do satire without being a smart arse", says Jack Dee

Also in 1996, Hardy teamed up with comedian Jack Dee to write Channel 4 sketch show Jack and Jeremy's Real Lives. The pair would later work together again on I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue.

Hardy became well-known for his comically bad singing on the long-running radio panel game.

Political views

He also fronted Jeremy Hardy Speaks to the Nation, a series of comedy lectures for BBC Radio 4, from 1993.

Episodes were based around subjects as diverse as how to be a father and how to meet the challenge of the 21st Century. The show's 10th series was broadcast in 2014.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Hardy often worked his socialist politics into his act

And he appeared on BBC Radio 4 with his first wife, American actress and comedian Kit Hollerbach, in the sitcoms Unnatural Acts and At Home with the Hardys. They adopted a daughter, Elizabeth, in 1990.

As a life-long socialist, Hardy's political views were often reflected in his work.

Until 2001, Hardy wrote a column for The Guardian newspaper in which he regularly expressed his support for the Socialist Alliance.

His final column for the paper criticised the news media for its "increasingly humorous tone".

Outspoken comments

His opinions didn't always prove popular with his audience. In 2000, he was booed by members of the Just A Minute audience when he used the subject "parasites" to begin a rant against the royal family.

In 2004, Burnley Council cancelled one of Hardy's performances after saying in an episode of his Speaks to the Nation show that members and supporters of the British National Party (BNP) should be shot.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Hardy's second wife was the film-maker Katie Barlow

Hardy was one of a number of names from the world of showbusiness to campaign to clear the name of Danny McNamee, who was found guilty of the IRA's 1982 Hyde Park bombing, which killed four members of the Household Cavalry and seven horses. McNamee's conviction was overturned in 1998.

Hardy was also a keen advocate for the rights of Palestinians, travelling to the occupied West Bank in 2002 to film the documentary Jeremy Hardy vs the Israeli Army.

Hardy is survived by his second wife, film-maker and photographer Katie Barlow, and his daughter.

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