Comedian Jethro has died after contracting COVID-19, his manager has said.
A statement on his Facebook page said the 72-year-old comedian, from Cornwall, died on Tuesday.
“It is with tremendous sadness that we announce the passing of the well known and popular Cornish comedian Jethro,” the statement said.
“Tragically Jethro passed away on 14 December 2021 after contracting COVID-19. Jethro leaves behind his life partner Jennie, sons Jesse and Lanyon, step daughter Sarah, daughter-in-law Stacey and of course his much loved grandchildren.
“We ask that you respect our privacy at this very sad time and give us all time to grieve. We will continue to support each other in the knowledge that our lives will never be the same without him.”
Jethro, whose real name was Geoffrey Rowe, was born in St Buryan in west Cornwall and was one of the most famous performers to ever come out of the county, Cornwall Live reports.
He rose to fame in the 1980s and was best known for his unique style and observational comedy, including pieces about living in Cornwall.
A regular on TV shows hosted by Des O’Connor, his other TV credits included the 2001 Royal Variety Performance and Jim Davidson’s Generation Game.
However, he built his fanbase mainly from live shows and VHS and DVD sales, the British Comedy Guide said, adding that he had “impressively” sold more than 4 million DVDs throughout his career, due to his loyal following.
In 2020, he announced his retirement, saying: “Great big thank you to everyone that has come to see me over the last 50 years, I’m sure I enjoyed you’re company more than you enjoyed mine.”
Davidson was among the comedians paying tribute, writing on Twitter: “My good friend Jethro has left us. RIP Jethro, you will be greatly missed.”
He also posted a video on YouTube, saying: “He was a great comedian, Jethro. He just liked to tell jokes. He told jokes, his timing was immaculate. I mean, even if you’ve heard that old joke a million times, he’d still make you laugh with it.
“He was unique. He didn’t follow fashion, certainly not. But I never met anyone who had a bad word to say about him and that’s a measure of a man for me. A great guy. I’ll miss him.”
Like Davidson, Jethro was known as an old-school comedian, and had received criticism for some of his work.
Comedian Richard Herring, who also paid tribute, shared a blog post he had written about performing in the same venue as Jethro in 2016, in which he said the older comic toed “the line of what is acceptable and what nearly isn’t very well”.