Stephen Fry has led the tributes to “lovable and loving” actor and comedian John Sessions, who has died aged 67.
Sessions was best known as a panellist on 1980s and 90s improvisation TV/radio show Whose Line Is It Anyway?, and for Stella Street, Spitting Image and QI.
His acting credits included TV dramas Porterhouse Blue and Victoria, and Kenneth Branagh’s 1989 film of Henry V.
Fry described him as “warm, vulnerable, lovable and loving as anyone can be”, with “so, so much talent”.
The actor, comedian and author wrote on Twitter: “He could make me laugh until I was sick and dizzy with pleasure and exhaustion.”
Other comedians also paid tribute. Ronni Ancona described him as “a genius”, while Helen Lederer remembered him as “such an original force of clever wit and talent”.
Rory Bremner said Sessions was “just the best, he’d blow everyone away on Whose Line with his speed of thought & breadth of reference”. He added: “A flash of brilliance just went out.”
Sanjeev Bhaskar said Sessions was “always warm and fun company and amazing improv ability”, while Meera Syal remembered him being “always the funniest and kindest man in the room”.
Jack Dee described him as “a delightful, funny, generous and hugely gifted man” and Sally Phillips said he was “unpredictable, dangerous, adorable”.
Sessions appeared on the first ever episode of QI, and the team behind the panel show said: “His incredible wit and encyclopaedic knowledge played a huge part in the show’s history and everyone at QI is deeply saddened to learn of his passing.”
Broadcaster Danny Baker remembered him as “terrific company always and a true talent”, and Michael Spicer described him as “a character actor with such extraordinary range and so very, very funny”.
His friend Ian Hislop, Private Eye editor, said Sessions was a “very modest man” and would have been flattered by all the attention.
“I was delighted to see him described as a star. He probably thought he wasn’t but he was. And he was quite the funniest man, in real life, that you could ever meet,” he told the BBC.
The Ayrshire-born star died from a heart condition, his agent said.
During his career, he provided voices on Spitting Image in the 1980s – the only person to both provide impressions and be featured as a puppet on the satirical show.
The programme was among the trailblazers of alternative comedy, he told BBC Radio Scotland in September. “You really felt you were at the cutting edge of comedy,” he said.
His impressions were also at the heart of Stella Street, a spoof soap opera about megastars like Keith Richards, Joe Pesci and Roger Moore who lived on the same suburban road, which launched in 1997.
Sessions recalled meeting Richards and the other members of the Rolling Stones. “They watched the show,” he told Radio Scotland. “Keith said he really enjoys it and he’s thinking of getting a little corner shop.”