Gogglebox star Leon Bernicoff dies

Image copyright Gogglebox
Image caption Leon and June were together for 62 years

Gogglebox star Leon Bernicoff has died aged 83 after a short illness, Channel 4 have said.

The retired teacher and his wife June were one of the first couples to join the reality TV show’s cast when it launched in 2013.

Mr Bernicoff died in hospital on Saturday, Channel 4 and production company Studio Lambert said in a statement.

They paid tribute to the TV favourite’s “unique personality and sharp wit”.

Channel 4 and Studio Lambert said: “It is with a heavy heart that we announce the sad news that after a short illness Gogglebox’s Leon Bernicoff passed away in hospital earlier today.

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“Leon and his wife June were the first members of the public to be cast for Gogglebox back in early 2013, and they soon grew to become much-loved voices during the course of the show’s 10 series to date.

“Leon’s unique personality and sharp wit endeared him to fans of the show, as he contributed fully to Gogglebox’s reputation as a programme full of warm humour and unvarnished opinion.

“To those of us that knew him personally, Leon was a man of unwavering principles who exerted a distinct paternal presence both on and off screen. He will be dearly missed by the entire Gogglebox family; cast and crew.”

Gogglebox features people sitting in their living rooms watching and reacting to television programmes.

There have been 10 series of the Bafta-winning show and its format has been adopted by television networks across the world including in Australia, the US, Belgium and Norway.

Gogglebox creator Tania Alexander tweeted: “So deeply saddened at the passing of our dear, dear Leon. He was and always will be the grandfather of #gogglebox – an absolute star who always made me laugh with his sharp wit and unshakable opinions. Much love and strength to June.”

Fellow Gogglebox stars have also been paying tribute to Mr Bernicoff on Twitter. Scarlett Moffat, who found fame on the show before going on to take part in and win the 16th series of ITV’s I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here, who expressed gratitude to him for encouraging her.

Sandra Martin said she was in tears after hearing the news.

Scott and Georgia McCormick also expressed their sadness.

The show’s Baasit Siddiqui and sofa pairing Jenny Newby and Lee Riley also paid tribute.

Rock star Liam Gallagher, who appeared on a celebrity version of Gogglebox last month, posted a brief tweet.

Mr Bernicoff was born on October 27 1934. He is survived by his wife, two daughters, sons-in-law and grandchildren.

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Read more: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk

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