Bobby Ball, one half of the comedy double act Cannon and Ball, has died at the age of 76, his manager has confirmed.
His death comes after the actor and comedian tested positive for Covid-19.
Ball was one half of the comedy duo alongside his long-time friend and colleague Tommy Cannon.
He also starred in several sitcoms including Not Going Out, Last of the Summer Wine, Benidorm and Heartbeat.
Leading the tributes, Cannon said: "Rock on, my good friend, I can't believe this, I'm devastated."
Not Going Out star Lee Mack said he was "utterly shocked and devastated to lose my mate Bobby like this".
Ball's wife Yvonne added: "I will always miss him, he was so joyful, full of fun and mischievous."
Ball's manager Phil Dale announced "with great personal sadness" that the comedy actor died at Blackpool Victoria Hospital on Wednesday evening.
He said Ball was admitted for tests due to breathing problems.
"At first it was thought to be a chest infection but a test proved positive for Covid-19," he said in a statement.
"His wife Yvonne said the hospital and staff could not have been more wonderful, as they were outstanding in their care of duty and they did everything possible for him and she cannot praise them enough.
"She said that the family and Tommy would like to express their sincere thanks to the many, many people who have been fans of Bobby and they know that they will all share in part the great loss and total sadness that Yvonne, the family and Tommy all feel."
He added that Ball's wife stressed their need for privacy at this time "has to be a priority" and no further announcements or statements will be made.
Ball starred recently in Lee Mack's flat share comedy Not Going Out, one of the BBC's most long-running and successful sitcoms.
Starring Mack and Sally Bretton as Lee and Lucy, the couple who eventually marry and have children, the show became a family comedy, with Ball playing Lee's unreliable dad Frank.
Ball was in 18 episodes of the show from 2009 to 2019.
"I filmed with him just a few weeks ago and he was his usual funny and cheeky self," said Mack in a statement. "My thoughts are with Yvonne and his family, and of course Tommy.
"To get to work with one of my childhood comedy heroes was great. But to call him a friend was even better. Rest In Peace Bobby."
Declan Donnelly of Ant and Dec fame was among others paying tribute to Ball, saying he had been one of his "absolute favourite performers growing up".
This Morning hosts Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby paid their own tribute on the ITV show, remembering Ball as "a genuinely lovely, sweet, kind man".
Singer Robbie Williams also paid tribute, thanking Ball "for the memories and the laughter".
God bless you Bobby Ball. Thank you for the memories and the laughter. RIP ❤️@TheBobbyBall— Robbie Williams (@robbiewilliams) October 29, 2020
Comedian Jason Manford described him as "such a hilarious man".
Actor and impressionist Kate Robbins said: "God bless your beautiful soul Bobby. You were so funny and lovely."
Comedy actress Diane Morgan added: "So sad to hear about Bobby Ball. He was such a treat to work with. Never stopped making us all laugh. We'll miss you Bobby!"
Former EastEnders star Shane Richie said Ball had had the ability to "make you laugh & cry with just a look" and had been "truly one of a kind".
I'm A Celebrity appearance
Bobby Ball was born in Oldham, Lancashire on 28 January 1944. He met his comedy partner Tommy Cannon while working in a factory as a welder.
Cannon and Ball - whose real names are Thomas Derbyshire and Robert Harper - started out as comics on the cabaret circuit in the north of England.
Ball was famous for twanging his braces on stage, while saying: "Rock on, Tommy."
Speaking to The Independent in 2006, Cannon recalled how they were given a huge career boost by LWT's director of programmes Michael Grade.
"He eventually saw a clip of something we'd done and he turned to the execs and said, 'Give these two lads their own show,'" Cannon explained.
"That was after 15 years slogging up and down to working men's clubs."
The Cannon and Ball Show launched in 1979 and was broadcast on Saturday nights.
It lasted 11 series and was one of the most popular TV shows of its time, with consistently high viewing figures.
In 1982, the duo made a police comedy film entitled The Boys In Blue.
Ball also created the BBC children's cartoon series Juniper Jungle, which aired in 1992.
Cannon and Ball appeared together on I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! in 2005, and were jointly the sixth to be voted out.
In his later years, Ball acted in several sitcoms, including Mount Pleasant and The Cockfields.