Gogglebox star Leon Bernicoff has died, aged 83.
Bernicoff, who was a retired teacher, appeared on the popular Channel 4 show with his wife June from its launch in 2013.
In a statement, Channel 4 and production company Studio Lambert confirmed the news of his passing, as the BBC reports. “It is with a heavy heart that we announce the sad news that after a short illness Gogglebox‘s Leon Bernicoff passed away in hospital earlier today,” it read.
It continued: “Leon and his wife June were the first members of the public to be cast for Gogglebox back in early 2013, and they soon are to become much-loved voices during the course of the show’s 10 series to date. Leon’s unique personality and sharp wit endeared him to fans of the show, as he contributed fully to Gogglebox‘s reputation as a programme full of warm humour and unvarnished opinion.
“To those of us that knew him personally, Leon was a man of unwavering principles who exerted a distinct paternal presence both on and off screen. He will be dearly missed by the entire Gogglebox family; cast and crew.”
Bernicoff is survived by his wife June, and two daughters, sons-in-law, and grandchildren.
So deeply saddened at the passing of our dear, dear Leon. He was and always will be the grandfather of #gogglebox – an absolute star who always made me laugh with his sharp wit and unshakable opinions. Much love and strength to June and the Bernicoff family. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/hFJdkNDBd1
— Tania Alexander (@Tanialalexander) December 23, 2017
Tania Alexander, who created the show, paid tribute to Bernicoff on her Twitter page. “So deeply saddened at the passing of our dear, dear Leon,” she wrote. “He was and always will be the grandfather of #gogglebox – an absolute star who always made me laugh with his sharp wit and unshakable opinions. Much love and strength to June.”
Leon said it as it is, whether he was rubbishing a celebrity,political party or whether he was describing how much his wife and family meant to him, it was always from the heart. All the love, thoughts and prayers to June and the Bernicoff family during this sad time #Leon x
— Baasit Siddiqui #gogglebox (@baasitsiddiqui) December 23, 2017
Fellow Gogglebox star Baasit Siddiqui also posted a message praising Bernicoff, writing: “Leon said it as it is, whether he was rubbishing a celebrity, political party or whether he was describing how much his wife and family meant to him, it was always from the heart. All the love, thoughts and prayers to June and the Bernicoff family during this sad time #Leon x”.
Read more tributes from across the entertainment world below.
Words can’t explain what you meant to so many people. From your words of encouragement to me to the little DMs. Leon you were loved by so many. Sending my love to you and all of your family .@LeonAndJune ❤️❤️
— Scarlett Moffatt (@ScarlettMoffatt) December 23, 2017
— Paddy McGuinness (@PaddyMcGuinness) December 23, 2017
RIP Leon Gogglebox as you were LG x
— Liam Gallagher (@liamgallagher) December 23, 2017
— Lee And Jenny (@leegogglebox) December 23, 2017
Sad to hear about Leon from Gogglebox. In a world that’s gone to arse he seemed such a gentle, honest soul and still so in love with June. #RIP
— David Schneider (@davidschneider) December 23, 2017
As being part of the gogglebox family my heart breaks for June and her family at the passing of Leon, but as a fan of gogglebox my heart breaks with the nation as we have lost a ledgend. Rest in peace Leon. Xxx
— Gogglebox Soph (@PeteandSophie) December 23, 2017
— Kate Bottley (@revkatebottley) December 23, 2017
I laughed and cried with this guy, man. R.I.P., Leon Bernicoff. https://t.co/rD9h9cQMnN
— THE NIGHT ELM ON MARE STREET. (@MikillPane) December 23, 2017