The Vicar Of Dibley star Emma Chambers has died aged 53, her agent has confirmed.
The actress – who portrayed the dim but lovable Alice Tinker opposite Dawn French’s Geraldine Granger in the long-running BBC comedy – died from natural causes.
She would be “greatly missed”, her agent John Grant said in a statement announcing the news.
Hugh Grant – who starred opposite Chambers in the hit film – called news of her death “very sad”.
He wrote on Twitter: “Emma Chambers was a hilarious and very warm person and of course a brilliant actress. Very sad news.”
The Vicar Of Dibley, also written by Curtis, originally ran from 1994 to 1998 but returned for numerous festive and comic relief specials with the latest episode airing as recently as 2015.
Each episode would close with Geraldine telling a joke to Alice who would either react nonplussed, interpret it literally, or only understand the humour once it was explained.
Curtis’ wife, broadcaster Emma Freud, was among one of the first to pay tribute to the couple’s “beautiful friend”.
She wrote on Twitter: “We’re very very sad. She was a great, great comedy performer, and a truly fine actress.
“And a tender, sweet, funny, unusual, loving human being.”
Freud posted a clip of Chambers and French in one of the joke scenes from an episode in 2005, and wrote: “How could you not love this girl. Emma Chambers… thank you for the brilliance.”
Former Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson, who grew up in Doncaster near Chambers, wrote: “I’m sad about Emma Chambers.
“Knew her when she was a kid in Doncaster. She was very funny.”
John Grant said in a statement: “We are very sad to announce the untimely death, from natural causes, of the acclaimed actress, Emma Chambers.
“Over the years, Emma created a wealth of characters and an immense body of work.
“She brought laughter and joy to many, and will be greatly missed.
“At this difficult time we ask that the privacy of the family and loved ones be respected.”
Citizen Khan star Adil Ray tweeted: “So sad. Emma Chambers was absolutely masterful. Very funny, she made the daftness believable. The joke coda with @Dawn_French in Dibley required great skill and Emma just nailed it. She made it. We say this a lot, but Emma IS a great loss to our screens.”