Gorden Kaye, best known to millions of viewers as René Artois in BBC comedy ‘Allo ‘Allo has died aged 75.

Gorden Kaye is ‘caught’ by ITV’s This Is Your Life

Yorkshire born, BAFTA-nominated, actor Gorden Kaye has died, aged 75, in a care home this morning his former agent announced via the BBC. Kaye became a household name thanks to the wartime based sitcom ‘Allo ‘Allo which ran from 1982 for a decade on BBC One. The show was so popular it saw its stars tour in a stage version of the programme and two later specials were produced in 1994 and 2007.

Born in Huddersfield in 1941 Kaye first ventured into media via hospital radio, where in 1965 he notably interviewed The Beatles. Radio drama lead to a television acting part on television. This would spear Kaye on, with the support of playwright and director Alan Ayckbourn, to join the Bolton Octagon Theatre; where he became a contracted regular performer. Roles included parts in The Cherry Orchard, The Imaginary Invalid and Oedipus and Cyclops.

Spotted by Coronation Street actress Pat Phoenix, who played life’s survivor Elsie Tanner, Kaye was signed up by Granada Television to appear in the serial. He would feature in 37 editions between 1969 and 1970 as Elsie Tanner’s nephew Bernard Butler.

The cast of ‘Allo ‘Allo. Image courtesy of David Croft

Numerous comedy parts followed with appearances in BBC sitcoms including Are You Being Served?, Till Death Us Do Part, It Ain’t Half Hot Mum, and Come Back Mrs. Noah. Gorden also featured in the movie version of the prison comedy Porridge alongside Ronnie Barker and Richard Beckinsale. There were other more serious parts but it would be the 1982 aired ‘Allo ‘Allo sitcom, loosely based on BBC drama Secret Army, that would make him popular with millions of viewers. The show followed Gorden as René, the lead character, who while a coward ended up assisting the resistance with their plans to get two British airmen out of occupied France during World War II.

The series proved such a hit a stage show followed and in the mid-1980s Kaye, with co-star Vicki Michelle, released a version of the song Je t’aime. Vicky paid tribute to her co-star on Twitter earlier today:

“So sad to hear news of Gorden Kaye. A brilliantly talented actor consummate professional, loved the world over. There’ll never be another Rene”

Kaye revealed in his autobiography the unusual spelling of his first name was due to a spelling error by the acting union Equity, however he liked it and kept it. Eamonn Andrews surprised Gorden for Thames Television’s This Is Your Life in 1986. He described the experience as being “a very special day”.

Vicki Michelle and Gorden Kaye as Yvette the serving girl and café owner René in ‘Allo ‘Allo

Gorden with the late Carmen Silvera as husband and wife René and Edith

Kaye was gay in real life, however for his ‘Allo ‘Allo role he was far from typecast as René enjoyed several affairs

One of many farce moments from ‘Allo ‘Allo which ran for a decade on BBC Television
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