Tributes paid to flamboyant film director Michael Winner

'A light has gone from my life' says wife Geraldine as she announces director’s death at 77

LAST UPDATED AT 15:18 ON Mon 21 Jan 2013

FRIENDS and colleagues have paid tribute to the film director and restaurant critic Michael Winner after his death at 77 was announced by his wife today.

Winner became better known in recent years for his acerbic 'Winners Dinners' column in The Sunday Times, and for his catchphrase "Calm down, dear!" in the TV advertisements for Esure – a line that got David Cameron into trouble during Prime Minister’s Questions in 2011 when he unwisely used it on female Labour frontbencher Angela Eagle.

Winner became a movie director after working as a film critic and writer. His films included Hannibal Brooks and Scorpio, but it was the Death Wish series starring Charles Bronson that helped make his name and fortune.

For the Daily Telegraph, "flamboyant" Winner established himself as a "world-class curmudgeon" through 'Winner’s Dinners', which he stopped writing in December 2012 as ill-health took hold.

Winner’s wife Geraldine Lynton-Edwards honoured her "brilliant, funny and generous" husband, saying "a light has gone out of my life". The two married in 2011 after an on/off romance spanning half a century.

Composer Andrew Lloyd Webber said he would "deeply miss" his old friend. "True originals come rarely in a lifetime," he wrote on Twitter.

John Cleese said: "I have just heard the very sad news about Michael. He was the dearest, kindest, funniest and most generous of friends."

Fellow restaurant critic Jay Rayner said Winner "made life more interesting" and would be missed, despite making some "lousy films". Former Sunday Times editor Andrew Neil said his "old mate" was "one of life’s great characters".

ITV News quotes X Factor supremo Simon Cowell saying he and Winner had become good friends. "Laughter was never far away when Michael was around and he is someone who the more I got to know, the fonder I got of him."

The Guardian recalls one of Winner’s best lines. In 2006 he was reportedly offered an OBE, but turned it down saying: "An OBE is what you get if you clean the toilets well at King's Cross station." · 

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