Dave Lee has sadly died at the age of 64. He had recently been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and his condition is understood to have grown rapidly worse over the weekend, resulting in his death on Monday.
A former singer and drummer, he eventually put a solo comedy act together as a TV warm up man in the seventies, then on several variety shows, including The Generation Game and Des O-Connor Tonight.
Lee also had a long career in pantomime, performing in over a 1000 shows in his home town of Canterbury at the Marlowe Theatre, and frequently entertained the troops.
Many of his colleagues have been paying tribute, with Jim Davidson writing on his blog yesterday: "It's been a terrible shock for all of us. Dave was a great comedian and a great bloke... He's been my guest star on numerous occasions and always, always went down a storm with the audience. He had something that all comedians strive for... likeability."
Lee had several charity links around Canterbury and in 2003 was awarded the MBE for setting up Dave Lee's Happy Holidays, which provided breaks for disabled and disadvantaged children in Kent. He was due to be awarded the freedom of the city at the end of this month for 'the great and lasting enjoyment that he has given to the people of Canterbury district over very many years; in particular in his comedy performances, his tireless fundraising work and support for local charities.'
Kent and England wicketkeeper Geraint Jones has called for a statue of Lee to be put up outside the Marlowe Theatre, and fellow sportsman Mark Bentley, a former Gillingham FC midfielder, tweeted: "RIP comedian and Gills fan Dave Lee, nice fella was great in the pantos."
A sad loss for the area and comedy, thoughts go out to his friends and family. But as good friend Gary Bushell has commented, "Heaven just got funnier."