Gogglebox Star Leon Bernicoff Has Passed Away Aged 83
23 December 2017, 18:33 | Updated: 23 December 2017, 19:02
The retired teacher died in hospital on Saturday, Channel 4 said.
Leon and wife June were among the first couples to join Gogglebox 4 years ago, in which couples across Britain are filmed watching TV, upon its launch.
They became fan favourites, with some referring to Leon in particular as the 'critics critic'. The channel has paid tribute to the telly favourite's "unique personality and sharp wit".
The Twitter account of the TV show confirmed the news to fans.
It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our dear friend and #Gogglebox legend Leon. We will all miss him so very dearly. Our thoughts are with June and family at this incredibly sad time.— C4 Gogglebox (@C4Gogglebox) December 23, 2017
Channel 4 and production company Studio Lambert issued a statement on behalf of Leon's family paying tribute to his "unique personality and sharp wit".
"It is with a heavy heart that we announce the sad news that after a short illness Gogglebox's Leon Bernicoff passed away in hospital earlier today," the statement said.
"Leon and his wife June were the first members of the public to be cast for Gogglebox back in early 2013, and they soon grew to become much-loved voices during the course of the show's 10 series to date.
"Leon's unique personality and sharp wit endeared him to fans of the show, as he contributed fully to Gogglebox's reputation as a programme full of warm humour and unvarnished opinion.
"To those of us that knew him personally, Leon was a man of unwavering principles who exerted a distinct paternal presence both on and off screen. He will be dearly missed by the entire Gogglebox family; cast and crew."
Leon and June Bernicoff from Gogglebox arriving for the Oldie of the Year awards 2016 | PA Images
Fans took to Twitter to share their sadness at the loss of the popular Gogglebox star, including creator Tania Alexander and fellow cast member Scarlett Moffatt.
So deeply saddened at the passing of our dear, dear Leon. He was and always will be the grandfather of #gogglebox - an absolute star who always made me laugh with his sharp wit and unshakable opinions. Much love and strength to June and the Bernicoff family. pic.twitter.com/hFJdkNDBd1— Tania Alexander (@Tanialalexander) December 23, 2017
Words can’t explain what you meant to so many people. From your words of encouragement to me to the little DMs. Leon you were loved by so many. Sending my love to you and all of your family .@LeonAndJune— Scarlett Moffatt (@ScarlettMoffatt) December 23, 2017
I hope June has a lot of family around her this Christmas, bless them RIP Leon, I feel so genuinely sad after reading this https://t.co/L0xjMVvax1— han (@fabuloushannahh) December 23, 2017
Leon is survived by wife June, two daughters, sons-in-law and grandchildren. Our thoughts are with them all at this difficult time.