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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Sophie Zeldin-O'Neill

UK comedians pay tribute to Gareth Richards after his death at 41

Gareth Richards
Gareth Richards was described as a ‘kind and gentle soul’ and ‘a good dude’. Photograph: Instagram

Comedians across the UK have paid tribute to the comic Gareth Richards, who has died aged 41 from injuries sustained in a car crash on the M25 last month.

Richards’ wife, Laura, said in a statement on Saturday: “It is with great sadness that I have to share that Gareth passed away on Friday 7 April (Good Friday) at 6.30pm.

“He was in a terrible car accident on Monday 27 March at 11.30pm and sustained serious brain injuries. It was a miracle that he arrived at the hospital alive. Since then, the doctors and nurses have been incredible and have kept him in a stable and sedated condition.

“However, the latest scan revealed that the extent of the damage was so severe that they would have to remove all of the supportive medications and allow him to be at peace.”

She added: “The boys are bearing up well. At the moment the grief is a lot to cope with. Thank you all for your support and kindness.”

Richards was a regular on the UK comedy circuit, performed at the Edinburgh fringe and supported Frank Skinner. He co-hosted Skinner’s Absolute Radio show for two years between 2009 and 2011.

He began his comedy career in 2004 and was a finalist in the Hackney Empire new act of the year 2007 competition, as well as runner-up in the Amused Moose Laugh-Off in the same year.

As his success grew, Richards took his first solo standup act – Stand Up Between Songs – to the Edinburgh festival fringe in 2010, for which he was nominated in the best newcomer category of the Foster’s Edinburgh comedy awards.

Richards took a show to the Edinburgh festival almost every subsequent year and was due to perform his 10th solo show at the Edinburgh fringe in 2023.

Skinner broke down in tears on air while telling listeners last week that Richards had been involved in a “very big road accident”.

He raised the subject at the end of his show on 1 April, saying: “Gareth was in a very big road accident this week and it’s not looking great … He is in hospital and he’s fighting but it’s not looking great.

“One thing you have to learn to do in this line of work is to put on a false front and the show must go on, and that’s what happened this morning.”

Comedians paying tribute to Richards included John Robins, who tweeted: “Thinking of dear Gareth and his family. A kind and gentle soul who I feel very lucky to have known for the past 15 years. A truly great comedian and a lovely, lovely man. Rest in peace G Man.”

The writer and comedian Adam Kay shared: “Indescribably sad about Gareth Richards. It is an almost unique eulogy for a comedian that every single person they met says what a kind, sweet person they were. Rest in peace my friend.”

Tiffany Stevenson wrote: “I’ve just seen the update on Gareth Richards. He was funny, unique & a good dude. I have lots of nice memories of touring abroad together and watching him workshop new songs. Thinking of his family and his close ones right now. Many of them fellow comics. Devastating news.”

The comedian Jason Manford posted on Twitter: “Myself and the whole team at @ManfordsComedy are devastated to hear the news that Gareth Richards passed away today.

“He was a wonderfully inventive & funny comedian but more importantly a kind & thoughtful man. Our thoughts are with his wife & children at this time.”

The comedian and regular Mock the Week panellist Angela Barnes wrote: “The news we’ve all been dreading has come that @garethrichards has left us.

“He was so funny and, above all, so kind and gentle. Love and strength to his family and friends and his comedy family who are all reeling from this. Rest in peace Gareth xxx”.

A number of performers have said they will fill Richards’ bookings on the understanding that the fee will be paid to his family.

Richards’ agent, Geoff Whiting, of Mirth Control, said a fundraising event would be organised in Richards’ memory later this year, and a number of acts had already agreed to take part.

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