The comedian Jeremy Hardy has died of cancer aged 57, his publicist has confirmed.
Hardy, who featured regularly on BBC Radio 4 panel shows such as The News Quiz and I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue and wrote columns for the Guardian between 1996-2001, died on Friday.
In a statement, his publicist said: “Friends and family of comedian Jeremy Hardy are immensely sad to announce that Jeremy died of cancer, early on Friday 1 February.
“He was with his wife and daughter as 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. 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.”
Born in Hampshire in 1961, Hardy began his career as a scriptwriter before turning to standup comedy in his early 20s. He soon rose to prominence on the London comedy scene, and won the Perrier comedy award at the Edinburgh fringe in 1988. In 1991 he was named as best live act at the ITV comedy awards.
Hardy’s most recognisable work was in broadcasting, where he appeared as a regular panellist on Radio 4’s I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue, the News Quiz and the Unbelievable Truth, as well as starring in the longstanding comedy lecture series Jeremy Hardy Speaks to the Nation.
In a statement, Radio 4 praised Hardy as “one of the funniest people around. Our thoughts are with all who knew and loved him.”
Hardy was a regular guest on TV panel shows such as QI and If I Ruled the World, and featured in Blackadder Goes Forth. His scriptwriting credits included Spitting Image and the sketch series Now – Something Else. Hardy began writing a weekly news-focused column for the Guardian in 1996 and continued until 2001, covering topics from prison reform to parenting. He later wrote for the Evening Standard magazine.
A committed socialist, Hardy was a close friend of Jeremy Corbyn and performed at a rally in support of the Labour leader’s 2016 election campaign. He occasionally courted controversy with his political views. In 2004 he was banned from performing by Burnley council after suggesting that members of the BNP “should be shot”.
Corbyn paid tribute to Hardy on Twitter: “Jeremy Hardy was a dear, lifelong friend. He always gave his all for everyone else and the campaigns for social justice. You made us all smile. You made us all think. Rest in peace, Jeremy,” he wrote.
Others paying tribute included Pointless co-host Richard Osman, who described Hardy as “naturally and brilliantly funny”.
“I was very lucky to work with Jeremy Hardy early in my career,” Osman wrote on Twitter. “Every day was a masterclass, a privilege. He was so naturally and brilliantly funny, and a man who chose to use his comedy to change the world rather than to fill stadia.”
I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue host Jack Dee, who also appeared alongside Hardy in the Channel 4 series Jack and Jeremy’s Real Lives, described the comic as, “groundbreakingly brilliant, off-the-register funny, compassionate and caring”.
Hardy’s fellow comedian and close friend Mark Steel also paid tribute. “My dearest friend Jeremy Hardy left us early this morning,” he wrote. “I was so lucky to have spent 35 years arseing about with him. Knowing him as I did, I know he wouldn’t want you to be sad, he’d want you to be bloody devastated.”