Legendary British comedian RONNIE BARKER has died at the age of 76.

Barker, best known for the BBC TV show PORRIDGE and his partnership with longtime funnyman collaborator RONNIE CORBETT, passed away peacefully at his England home yesterday (03OCT05) following a long period of heart trouble.

MONTY PYTHON star John Cleese, who started his career alongside Barker on THE FROST REPORT, says, "He was a warm, friendly and encouraging presence to have when I started in television. He was also a great comic actor to learn from."

Cleese's Monty Python contemporary MICHAEL PALIN says, "I can't think of anyone who knew how to play comedy better than Ronnie Barker and I count myself enormously fortunate to have known and worked with him."

His co-star on smash sitcom OPEN ALL HOURS, Sir David Jason, is too distraught to comment on Barker's death, according to his agent.

Barker won four British Academy Of Film And Television Awards (BAFTAs), and was also presented with a lifetime achievement BAFTA trophy last year (04).

He is survived by his wife JOY TUBB, who was at his side when he died, and three children.