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'Allo 'Allo!'s Gorden Kaye 'the kingpin everyone revolved around'

'Allo 'Allo! star Gorden Kaye was a "kingpin that everyone revolved around", according to his co-star Arthur Bostrom.

Kaye, who played cafe owner Rene Francois Artois in the show set in Nazi-occupied France during the Second World War, died on Monday aged 75.

Bostrom played British agent Officer Crabtree, whose mangled vowels led him to adopt the greeting "Good moaning", and said it has been the highlight of his career.

He told BBC Three Counties Radio: "Gorden led the company. He was an energetic actor and he brought so much energy to that role and that fired everyone else.

"You have to have a kingpin that everyone revolves around, my part was funny but was just a cameo, Gorden's part of Rene connected everything and he attacked it with such passion.

"He was also so dependable, if he was feeding you a line he would always do it bang on."

Actress Vicki Michelle, who played Rene's mistress and waitress Yvette Carte-Blanche, told the radio station: "H e was just a brilliant actor, a consummate professional but also a bit of a prankster.

"He had a bucket of water behind the bar and used to put my foot in it, stupid things like that, but he was serious sometimes too."

In 1990, he nearly died in a freak accident which left him with severe head injuries when a wooden advertising hoarding blew through his car windscreen during a storm in London.

Kaye had a five-and-a-half hour emergency brain operation following the incident and Michelle recalled: "W e were at the Palladium doing the stage play and we heard the news and were all in shock because we didn't know if he would live or die."

The actor starred in the successful stage version of 'Allo 'Allo! alongside the original cast, and later a new-look line-up, which frequently toured in the UK and internationally.

Michelle said: "W e had to go to Australia without him and do it with an Australian actor but he came through it and a few months later, after massive surgery, he was on the stage again.

"He learned his lines really well even after the accident but later in life when we did the return he was struggling more."

Before landing his career-defining role, Kaye appeared in a number of shows including It Ain't Half Hot Mum and Are You Being Served? - and played Elsie Tanner's nephew Bernard Butler in Coronation Street from 1969 to 1970.

He was nearly injured in another bizarre incident in 1997 when starring in Travels With My Aunt at the Oxford Playhouse after a heap of suitcases toppled over, just missing him and the other cast members.

In 2007, he was in a one-off documentary exploring the history of 'Allo 'Allo!, featuring clips from the original series, a cast reunion and brand new scenes written by co-creator Jeremy Lloyd.

The comeback saw Rene back in his cafe writing his war diaries, with a little help from Yvette and some of the establishment's characters.

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