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British comedy figure Mel Smith dies, aged 60

The Associated Press, Saturday, July 20, 2013, 10:28am (PDT)

LONDON (AP) — British comedian Mel Smith, whose 1980s evening news parody was a forerunner to comedic offerings such as America's "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart," has died of heart attack, his agent says. He was 60.

Smith first shot to fame along with his partner-in-comedy Griff Rhys Jones in "Not the Nine O'Clock News," an absurdist take on staid BBC newscasts.

The show, which also introduced Britain to Rowan Atkinson's "Mr. Bean," was a watershed, laying the ground for other current affairs spoofs.

Smith's company, Talkback Productions, became a major force in British comedy, responsible for shows including Sacha Baron Cohen's wince-inducing "Ali G" and Steve Coogan's hilariously awkward "I'm Alan Partridge."

Agent Michael Foster says Smith died Friday at his home in northwest London. Few other details were immediately available.

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