Addison Cresswell, the UK's top comedy agent, has died
One of the most influential people in British comedy, agent Addison Cresswell, has died.
A hugely powerful and successful promoter, Cresswell set up talent management company Off The Kerb, and was the mastermind behind the careers of many of British comedy's best known stand-up comedians, including Lee Evans, Michael McIntyre, Alan Carr and Jack Dee.
A statement released by his company confirmed the news: "Agent, producer and charity fundraiser Addison Cresswell passed away in his sleep at home last night at the age of 53.
"Widely considered to be one of the most influential figures in the entertainment industry, his clients included Jack Dee, Lee Evans, Jonathan Ross, Alan Carr, Michael McIntyre, Dara O Briain and Sean Lock.
"He leaves behind a proud legacy in his tireless charity work, initiating and organising the annual Channel 4 Comedy Gala in aid of Great Ormond Street Hospital. It was his dearest wish to raise enough to fund the opening of a brand new wing of the hospital, a goal that is now in sight.
"Addison will be fondly remembered by all whose lives he touched as a devoted mentor, a dear friend and an unforgettable character. He will be sorely missed. He is survived by his beloved wife, Shelley, his dogs Bonnie and Nessie and many, many pet fish."
It is understood that Cresswell suffered a heart attack in his sleep last night, Sunday 22nd/Monday 23rd December 2013.
Addison Cresswell began representing comedians in 1981, initially working from his kitchen table. However, Off The Kerb has now grown into one of the biggest comedy agencies in the country, with a TV production arm - Open Mike - behind many hit TV formats.
Cresswell has acted as an executive producer for many of the company's titles, including Live At The Apollo, Michael McIntyre's Comedy Roadshow, Stand Up For The Week, Alan Carr: Chatty Man, Edinburgh Comedy Fest Live and The Last Leg, as well as scripted formats such as Jack Dee's Lead Balloon.
In summer 2012, comedy website Such Small Portions named Cresswell the single most influential person in British comedy.
Cresswell was widely regarded as a shrewd businessman, and was the man who, in 2006, negotiated the controversial £18m golden handcuffs deal between Jonathan Ross (pictured) and the BBC.
In a 2008 Guardian profile, the then head of Channel 4 said of Cresswell: "You can judge how effective and how good agents are by the long-term relationships they have with their clients. In other words, is their client base always changing or not? Addison has managed to keep his clients for a very long time, which is an indication how good he is for them.
"With broadcasters, he can be volatile - but my experience with him is that he is straight, and you always have the feeling that he has his client's best interests at heart. He has an understanding of television, and is a hard negotiator but also fair."
Whilst being very well known within the comedy industry, and often described as a "larger than life character", Cresswell was also a private individual who shunned the spotlight. Few press photographs of him exist.
Many leading names have taken to Twitter this evening to express their shock and dismay at news of his death.
Simon Evans, one of Cresswell's acts, posted: "Very hard to accept that Addison Cresswell is gone. Very hard indeed. To say RIP seems almost disrespectful to his whole approach to life."
Shappi Khorsandi said: "I adored my manager Addison Cresswell. Am so shocked and saddened by his sudden death. He'd fight tigers for his acts. Irreplaceable."
Adam Hills posted: "Devastated by the loss of my manager, friend and champion Addison Cresswell. He can never be replaced. Love you loads. Ad x"
Jack Whitehall added: "Sad news about Addison Cresswell last time I saw him was last week giving me a bear hug as I came off stage. An amazing character we've lost."
Stephen Fry said: "Oh goodness, I've just heard about Addison Cresswell a larger than life impresario manager. My deepest sympathy to all his family & friends."
Kenton Allen, boss of production company Big Talk, said: "Please can someone tell me the Addison Cresswell news is nonsense? He's been a beacon of light in my life for over 30 years." He later added: "So it's true. You truly knew you were alive if you were lucky enough to spend time with Addison. Going for a walk now..."
Agent Vivienne Clore commented: "Truely tragic news. Addison Cresswell RIP... He will leave a huge gap in comedy and always have a place in comedians' hearts."
Horrible Histories producer Caroline Norris tweeted: "Terribly sad news about Addison Cresswell. A huge loss to the world of comedy."
Jenny Eclair added: "Stunned and shocked by news of Addison Cresswell's death, he was there at the beginning for so many of us, love to his family and friends."
Julia Davis has written and is starring in a new pilot about a breakfast TV host for Channel 4, called Morning Has Broken.
Dom Joly is reportedly having a second go at re-making his hidden camera show Trigger Happy TV for American audiences.
Ross Noble Freewheeling, the improvised comedy series which sees stand-up comedian Ross Noble travelling the UK, is to return to channel Dave.
Frankie Boyle is amongst the stars talking part in a read-through for Wild Life, a new sitcom pilot about a TV documentary crew that is aiming to film wolves in Sweden.
BFBS Radio, the station set up to broadcast to British armed forces around the world, is launching a new sketch show called Damn The Torpedoes!.
The BBC has ordered a second series of Michael McIntyre's chat show. The stand-up comedian will return to BBC One later in the year for more episodes.
Six episodes of Channel 4's police-based comedy drama Babylon are now being filmed in London. Read
A snapped heel, torn cruciate and broken relationship - 2014 has been turbulent for Marcus Brigstocke. Read
A podcast in which Chris Addison talks about his career, and how they made the new sitcom Trying Again. Listen
Jason Lewis introduces Sniggers With Attitude, the sketch show he has made for TV channel London Live. Read
A panel show celebrating BBC Two, and a sketch show pilot called Sniggers With Attitude are amongst our picks. Read
Al Murray has announced a new Pub Landlord UK tour titled One Man, One Guvnor: 20 years at the lager top. Read
The Udderbelly Festival is back on London's Southbank until the 13th July. Lots of comedy on offer. Read
Comedian Doc Brown will be offering free mentorship and career guidance via the Noise Festival website. Info
Photos from ITV's new drama focusing on Tommy Cooper. The comic is portrayed by David Threlfall. View
'Bile merchant' Nathaniel Tapley has written this to explain why he's doing a Margaret Thatcher seance. Read