British comedian Mel Smith passed away Friday in his London home after having a heart attack. He was 60 years old. Smith rose to prominence when was cast in the influential series Not the Nine O’Clock News in 1979 at age 26. There, he was part of a cast that included Rowan Atkinson, Pamela Stephenson, and beginning in the second season, Griff Rhys Jones. Smith and Jones formed a creative partnership that lasted for decades.
After the team behind Not the Nine O’Clock News decided to end the show in 1982, Smith and Jones joined forces for the sketch show Alas Smith and Jones, which ran for ten seasons from 1984 to 1998. In addition to that series, Smith and Jones worked on subsequent movies and TV shows together. Smith was also a successful director, helming Bean, the big screen adaptation of Rowan Atkinson’s character Mr. Bean. Together, Smith and Jones founded the production company Talkback, which has become one of the leading comedy companies in the UK with hits like The Day Today, I’m Alan Partridge, Brass Eye, Big Train, The Eleven O’Clock Show, and Da Ali G Show.