British comedian and variety performer Max Bygraves has died in Australia, aged 89.

The entertainer ? whose catchphrase ?I wanna tell you a story? propelled him to stardom in the 50s ? had been suffering from Alzheimer?s Disease.

He died peacefully in his sleep at his daughter Christine Green?s home in Queensland, Australia, on Friday night, where he had been living since emigrating from Sandbanks, Dorset.

Bygraves last appeared in public in the UK at revival shows in Blackpool and London in 2006.

He had moved to Australia with his wife of 70 years, Blossom, in the hope the warm climate would help her long-term chest condition. She passed away in May last year.

His son Anthony Bygraves, 65, told Sky News: ?He was a natural, he was a great entertainer. He was a good mate ? we had a lot of good times together.

He said he had visited his father two weeks ago with his youngest sister Maxine, 61.

?He had become terribly frail, but somehow I hoped that he would be able to see his 90th birthday,? he added.

?It wasn?t to be. He just slipped away. Although his death isn?t unexpected it has still come as a terrific shock. We?re all terribly sad.

?It?s hard to imagine a world without him but at least I saw him recently. I got a chance to give him a hug and be with him.?

Mr Bygraves, who once had his own TV show and as a young entertainer used to perform alongside his father, spoke of his distress at watching the star gradually decline.

?Up until last year he could still sing along with his old CDs. He knew all the words and even which track was coming next but when I saw him in Australia last month, he?d lost all that.

?It was very upsetting because Dad was always so on the ball ? always on his toes.?

He said Maxine had received news of his death just hours after wildfires forced her to flee her home near the Spanish resort of Marbella.

?Poor Maxine, she?s really been through it. The house was okay eventually but apparently it had to be doused with water by the firefighters,? he added.

He had organised a campaign for the public to send him stories on how they affectionately remembered his father.

The appeal came after more than 2,000 people sent get-well messages to Bygraves in March when it was revealed he was suffering from the early stages of Alzheimer?s.

Tributes poured in as news of the entertainer?s death emerged.

Veteran entertainer Des O?Connor said Bygraves had been a massive influence on his own career and had given him valuable guidance when he started out.

He said: ?When I was in the Air Force I used to go to the Peterborough Embassy every Tuesday where we would usually see people in funny hats and one week Max walked on in a smart suit.

?He was so pleasant and completely controlled the audience, and I remember thinking, ?that?s the way to do it?.?

Lord Alan Sugar wrote on Twitter: ?Funny fellow RIP.?

Comedian Les Dennis ?tweeted: ?So sad to hear that Max Bygraves has died. A great performer and a gentleman.

?Very gracious when I took over Family Fortunes. RIP.?

?He was one of the all-time greats of British showbusiness,? comedian Jimmy Tarbuck told the BBC.

Bygrave?s agent Johnny Mans said: ?His death is a great loss to the entertainment profession and a great loss to all of his friends in the industry.?

Former radio presenter Ed Stewart said his friend was a ?unique talent? who ?gave a lot of pleasure to a lot of people?.

?He as a person never dated,? he told the BBC.

?He was a great character with a great sense of humour, a lovely family and it?s just a shame that he?s gone, but at nearly 90, he had a good run.?

Born Walter Bygraves in south London in 1922, he adopted the name Max after his hero Max Miller.

He appeared in films, stage shows and hosted gameshow Family Fortunes during a long-running career.

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