COMEDIAN Sean Lock bravely spoke out about battling cancer 30 years ago – but only close pals knew the disease had returned.
The 58-year-old revealed he had suffered skin cancer in 1990 and warned the public about the dangers of not wearing sunscreen.
It is not known which cancer the 8 Out Of 10 Cats star died of today, but his close celeb friends suggested he knew his illness was terminal.
Fellow comic Lee Mack said today he'd known of the 8 Out Of 10 Cats star's illness for "some time".
And Jonathan Creek actor Alan Davies said Lock had "quietly wrestled" with his diagnosis.
It was announced today that dad-of-three Lock died surrounded by his family.
He was a well-known supporter of cancer charities after he was diagnosed with malignant melanoma at the age of 27.
In an interview, he said he never wore sunscreen while working on building sites for seven years before his comedy career began.
"I liked the work and the wages – £340 a week, which, in 1981, was a lot of money," Lock, then 47, told the Daily Mail.
"You could hardly ask a big Irish foreman, 'Please could you rub some Ambre Solaire on my back?' And we didn't wear hats, either. None of us took any notice of the fact that we were going red."
He was diagnosed with skin cancer following a one-night stand in his 20s.
"She noticed something about me that I hadn't," he said.
"She said there was something weird on my back.
"I asked her what it looked like and she said it was a patch of skin which was black, misshapen, with a crusty texture and about the size of a 10p piece.
"I had no idea how long it had been there."
Doctors who diagnosed him in 1990 said that if he had booked an appointment four months later, the cancer may well have been incurable.
🔵 Read our Sean Lock blog for the latest tributes
Lock began his career in comedy three years after the diagnosis.
He won the gong for best live stand-up at the British Comedy Awards in 2000 and became a team captain on panel show 8 Out Of 10 Cats in 2005.
His death was announced this morning by agent Off The Kerb Productions, who said: "He died at home from cancer, surrounded by his family.
"Sean was one of Britain's finest comedians, his boundless creativity, lightning wit and the absurdist brilliance of his work, marked him out as a unique voice in British comedy."
Comedian Alan Davies is among those to pay tribute – and he said Lock had been battling an illness over "years".
He wrote on Twitter: "Sad news about Sean Lock. Funny on stage, hilarious off.
I’ve known this day was coming for some time, but it’s no less heartbreaking.
"We met in 1988 right at the start of our stand up careers.
"I hadn't seen him in recent years as he quietly wrestled with illness but I feel very sad today for Anoushka and their children. RIP Locky."
Lee Mack said: "I’ve known this day was coming for some time, but it’s no less heartbreaking.
"A true original both in comedy and life. I will miss him so much."
Jon Richardson, who appeared on panel shows alongside Lock, said comedy had "lost one of the very best" as he paid tribute.
He tweeted: "I idolised Sean as a comic long before I became a comedian myself and ten years working alongside him didn't diminish that in the least.
"An incredible comic brain and a truly unique voice."
In a second tweet, he wrote: "I'm devastated for his family today and sad for comedy that we have lost one of the very best.
"Undisputed, undefeated, carrot in a box champion. I will miss him."
Ricky Gervais tweeted: "One of the funniest, most influential comedians of a generation. A lovely man."
Lock leaves wife Anoushka Nara Giltsoff, as well as two daughters born in 2004 and 2006 and a son born in 2009.
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