Allo, Allo stars turn out to say farewell to Gorden Kaye

Pallbearers are pictured carrying Gorden Kaye's coffin into his funeral service in Huddersfield as hundreds line the streets to pay their respects to the former Allo Allo star
  • Funeral held for Gorden Kaye in Huddersfield today following the comedian's death last month aged 75
  • Co-stars including Vicki Michelle and Sue Hodge among dozens of mourners at the service
  • Mourners said farewell to the Allo Allo star, who played one of Britain's best-loved characters René Artois
  • Tributes have poured in for the actor, who died 'peacefully' at a care home according to his agent

Mourners gathered to pay their respects to one of Britain's best-loved comedians today at the funeral of 'King of Comedy' Gorden Kaye.

The Allo Allo star -who was born Gordon but went by stage name Gorden after a typing error when joining actors' union Equity - died 'peacefully' last month in a care home aged 75, with tributes pouring in for the man better known as French cafe owner René Artois.

The service took place at Huddersfield Parish Church as dozens of mourners gathered to say farewell to the BAFTA-nominated actor, with his coffin decorated with pink and purple flowers.

They included ex-castmates Vicki Michelle, who played on-screen lover Yvette, Sue Hodge, who played cafe waitress Mimi, and Kim Hartman, who played Private Helga on the long-running BBC comedy.

During the service, mourners heard how the once 'shy boy from Huddersfield' grew to become 'King Gordon' of TV comedy. But despite his fame, friends and family said he remained an 'introvert, shy and quiet'.  

 Allo Allo stars Vicki Michelle and Sue Hodge were pictured embracing as they attended friend and former co-star Gorden Kaye's funeral in Huddersfield

Allo Allo stars Vicki Michelle and Sue Hodge were pictured embracing as they attended friend and former co-star Gorden Kaye's funeral in Huddersfield

 The service took place at Huddersfield Parish Church today
 Michelle and Hodge were among dozens of mourners attending the service to pay their respects

The service, left, was held at Huddersfield Parish Church, with dozens of mourners turning out to pay their respects to the BAFTA-nominated actor, including Michelle and Hodge, right, who played Yvette and Mimi respectively

 Kim Hartman, pictured, 65, who played Private Helga on Allo Allo, also attended the service for her late friend

Kim Hartman, pictured, 65, who played Private Helga on Allo Allo, also attended the service for her late friend

Speaking ahead of the service, Michelle, who played Rene's lover on the show, said: 'It feels like the end of an era, but it's not because we're still going, but he was such a big part of our lives for such a long time.'

Asked what her fondest memory of the actor was, she said: 'We had so many memories but I think when he was being a bit of a prankster.'

And speaking after the service, Michelle added: 'He was definitely there looking at it, orchestrating it and he would have loved it.'

She added: 'It was 10 years we worked together. It's incredibly sad and really the end of an era because Allo Allo really was Rene.

'We have to remember Gordon for his great sense of humour and his role as Rene - which was a part of course written especially for him.

'Allo Allo is a timeless piece because it is set in wartime and that is why it broke so many records and grossed so many fans across the world.

'But ultimately is down to the fantastic writers who made it a laugh every three seconds, it was one, two, three.. bam, one, two, three.. bam.' 

Castmate Sue Hodge, who played waitress Mimi Labonq, said: 'I haven't actually got to grips with the fact he's not here.'

She added: 'I'm never ever going to forget him. He'll be with me forever.'

Gordon's cousin Sheila Shuttleworth had previously said the last two years of his life had 'not been the happiest' as he battled dementia - and 'didn't even recognise himself'. 

Kim Hartman, who played Private Helga Geerhart in the sitcom, said she had fond memories of his 'infectious laugh'.

She said: 'When something really tickled him he just had this incredible giggle. It was so infectious.'

Inside the church, friend Charles Garland told mourners: 'Throughout his career he transformed from a shy boy from Huddersfield into a mantle of a skilled actor and performer.

'He was a man from God's own country - Yorkshire. And would never forget his roots.' 

Former Coronation Street actor Ken Morley, who played General Leopold von Flockenstuffen in the sitcom, said: 'I am going to miss him.

'Between Gorden and myself it was like the War of the Roses because he was from Yorkshire and I was from Lancashire.'

He added: 'We had a laugh together, he was a very funny guy.'

 The service was led by Rev Canon Simon Moor, pictured, with moving tributes paid to the actor throughout

The service was led by Rev Canon Simon Moor, pictured, with moving tributes paid to the actor throughout

The service, led by Rev Canon Simon Moor, started with Yorkshire folksong On Ilkla Moor Baht 'At.

Rev Moor told the congregation about Mr Kaye's childhood and early career.

He said: 'He accepted himself he was never really a scholar.

'Ironically his only real success at secondary school was in French.' 

He added: 'For all his fame he remained a shy and introvert man - but enjoyed his profession and his fame.' 

In a eulogy, friend and producer Charles Garland, who worked on 'Allo 'Allo, said Mr Kaye had appeared on programmes including Coronation Street, Emmerdale and Are You Being Served before he was given the role which made him famous.

He said: 'The part was written for him and, to be honest it was perfect casting.'

Mr Garland said Mr Kaye took up the role of Rene hundreds of times both on stage and off.

He said the 'shy boy from Huddersfield' was always hidden under the mantle of a 'skilled actor' and 'consummate professional'.

The producer said the last time he had seen Mr Kaye he asked how he felt after he said he didn't think he had long to live.

Mr Garland said: 'He said, and I quote this here word-for-word, 'Listen, if you are feeling downhearted I'm sorry to hear it, but you probably know somebody who is more downhearted than you are - go and cheer them up a bit, it's not that hard'.'

In another eulogy, comedian Keith Simmons said the star would always be known as 'King Gorden' to the Water Rats - a showbiz fraternity and charity which the star had been 'king' of in 1999.

He said: 'He was a lovely man and we had great times.' 

Tributes have poured in for Kaye since his death on January 23, with his former co-stars on the series quick to share their fond memories of him.

Michelle wrote on Twitter: 'So sad to hear news of Gorden Kaye. A brilliantly talented actor, consummate professional, loved the world over.

'There'll never be another René.'

 Former Coronation Street actor Ken Morley, who played General Leopold von Flockenstuffen in the sitcom, said he would 'miss Kaye' and described him as a 'very funny guy' 

Former Coronation Street actor Ken Morley, who played General Leopold von Flockenstuffen in the sitcom, said he would 'miss Kaye' and described him as a 'very funny guy' 

 Morley, pictured, added he and Kaye were 'like the War of the Roses because he was from Yorkshire and I was from Lancashire'

Morley, pictured, added he and Kaye were 'like the War of the Roses because he was from Yorkshire and I was from Lancashire'

RENE'S FAMOUS CATCHPHRASES

'You stupid woman!'

(How Rene often addressed wife Edith)

'Can't you see I am...' 

(How Rene began his excuses for his constant womanising) 

'You may wonder what I am doing...'  

'Oh Yvette/Maria'

(Rene's cries of passion, depending on who he was with)

'Oh 'eck!'

'You silly old bat!' 

(How Rene often addressed his mother-in-law)

'Hang on a minute!' 

Guy Siner, who played German Lieutenant Hubert Gruber, whose character had a not-so subtle attraction to René throughout the show, also took to Twitter to pay tribute to Kaye.

He said: 'I'm very sorry to hear of Gorden Kaye's death; he might not have been the easiest man in the world but to be fair we did do some pretty good work together. I'm proud of what we did. Who could ask for anything more?'

Hartman, whose character was Herr Flick's longtime love interest, added: 'I am devastated. Gorden was such a funny man and such a big part of my life.'

In his 1989 autobiography René and Me, Kaye described himself as a 'shy, gay and overweight boy' who found self-confidence and self-expression through acting. 

But he had rarely been seen onscreen following the end of the show, which he returned to in 1990 after he was seriously injured in a car accident.

He was left critically ill in hospital after a plank for an advertising board was blown through his car windscreen during the Burns' Day storm in January of that year.

The actor's last screen role was in BBC sketch show Revolver in 2004.

He began his professional career working for the Bolton Repertory Theatre.

 Michelle, pictured with Kaye on Allo Allo, called him a 'brilliantly talented actor'
 Kaye pictured in 2007 at the funeral of Are You Being Served? star John Inman

Michelle, left with Kaye, paid tribute to the actor after his death and said he was a 'brilliantly talented actor'. He is pictured right in 2007 at the funeral of friend and Are You Being Served? star John Inman

'Allo 'Allo!, which made light of the Nazi occupation of France, ran on BBC One from 1982 to 1992. It was written by David Croft and Jeremy Lloyd.

As René, Kaye risked his neck to aid the resistance and stay out of trouble with the Nazis, with Carmen Silvera as his wife Edith.

Kaye and Silvera maintained a close relationship off-screen and he visited her in her west London retirement home days before her death in 2002 aged 80. 

Prior to Allo Allo, Kaye made appearances in a number of UK sitcoms including Till Death Us Do Part, It Ain't Half Hot Mum and Are You Being Served?.

His first big television break came in ITV soap Coronation Street, where he played Elsie Tanner's nephew Bernard Butler.

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