Credit: Shutterstock/Gorden Kaye

Listen, if you are feeling downhearted I'm sorry to hear it, but you probably know somebody who is more downhearted than you are - go and cheer them up a bit, it's not that hard

The list of British sitcom characters who are as beloved as René Artois is slim, and that’s due to the man behind the role, Gorden Kaye.

Born in Huddersfield, West Riding of Yorkshire, Gorden was more interested in rugby as a child than he was in acting. He played Rugby League for Moldgreen ARLFC and didn’t have his first ‘show-biz’ role until he started in hospital radio. After graduating King James's Grammar School, Almondbury he began his acting career in earnest, featuring in radio plays, television shows and acting on stage in multiple different parts.

He found his calling in comedy though and after acting in British staples such as Are You Being Served he was offered the role that would become his trademark in ’Allo ‘Allo!, as René Artois. Gorden played the main character for every episode of the program’s ten season run as well as 1,200 performances of the stage show and numerous reunion episodes. After a traffic accident during the Burns’ Day Storm of 1990, Gorden suffered a severe head injury and lost his memory for a period. His agent visited the hospital with tapes of ’Allo ‘Allo!, which Gorden’s co-writer, Jeremy Lloyd, believed helped him to recover and remember who he was.