Mel Smith/ Shutterstock.com

One minute you're doing a TV show that no one is watching, and then everyone is

Mel Smith was one of the biggest names to emerge in British comedy in the 1980s. He first became known for the groundbreaking sketch show Not The Nine O’Clock News alongside Pamela Stephenson, Rowan Atkinson and Griff Rhys Jones. The series ran from 1979 and 1982 and made stars of all four.

Afterwards, Smith teamed up with Rhys Jones. Their comic partnership took them through ten series together, the first of which was entitled Alas Smith and Jones.

The duo had lots of fun together in numerous sketches but were most famous for their famously silly head to head dialogues.

Solo ventures saw Mel star in sitcom Colin’s Sandwich as a British Rail employee with literary aspirations and he had a hit Christmas single with Kim Wilde, covering Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree in aid of Comic Relief.

Mel and Griff founded Talkback TV in 1981, which produced many other hit comedy shows, selling it for £62 million in 2000.

Smith moved successful into film directing, with cinema hits including The Tall Guy starring Jeff Goldblum and the hugely successful Bean movies starring his old colleague Rowan Atkinson.

After Mel’s premature death of a heart attack in 2013, his old partner Griff Rhys Jones spoke fondly of him: “He inspired love and utter loyalty and he gave it in return. I will look back on the days working with him as some of the funniest times that I have ever spent.”