Top BBC sitcom writer John Sullivan dies
John Sullivan, the creator of "Only Fools and Horses", one of Britain's best-loved comedies, has died at the age of 64 after a short illness, the BBC announced Saturday.
A south London man, Sullivan was inspired by the sort of characters he grew up around to create the show about flashy market trader Derek "Del Boy" Trotter's attempts to get rich alongside his dim-witted younger brother Rodney.
The show ran for seven series from 1981 to 1991, with occasional Christmas specials until 2003. At their peak, more than a third of the British population would tune in.
Some of Del Boy's phrases, such as "Lovely jubbly", are used endlessly around the world by people trying to sell things to British tourists.
"He had a unique gift for turning everyday life and characters we all know into unforgettable comedy," BBC director general Mark Thompson said of Sullivan.
"His work will live on for years to come."
Sullivan's other writing credits included the comedies "Citizen Smith" and "Just Good Friends".
Actor David Jason, who played Del Boy, said he was "devastated".
"We have lost our country's greatest comedy writer but he leaves us a great legacy, the gift of laughter."
Sullivan died at a private hospital in Surrey, south of London, after a battle with viral pneumonia. He he had been in intensive care for six weeks.
"No one understood what made us laugh and cry better than John Sullivan," said BBC head of comedy Mark Freeland.
"He was the Dickens of our generation. Simply the best, most natural, most heartfelt comedy writer of our time."
Danny Cohen, controller of the main BBC One channel, said: "John was a giant of television comedy, with his writing bringing joy to many millions over the decades. His loss will be felt hugely at the BBC and across Britain."
He is survived by his wife Sharon and two sons, a daughter and two grandchildren.
© 2011 AFP