Tenko and Pink Panther star Burt Kwouk dies, aged 85

(Image credit: ITV/REX/Shutterstock)

The versatile character actor Burt Kwouk, who will be remembered by different generations as Cato in the Pink Panther films, the prison governor in Tenko and Harry Hill's comic foil, has died at the age of 85.

A statement issued by his agent said: "Beloved actor Burt Kwouk has sadly passed peacefully away. The family will be having a private funeral, but there will be a memorial at a later date."

He appeared in seven Pink Panther films opposite Peter Sellers as Clouseau's servant, who regularly attacked his employer to keep him alert, and he also appeared in three James Bond films, Goldfinger, You Only Live Twice and Casino Royale.



Born in Warrington, Cheshire, Burt was raised in Shanghai and was given an OBE in the 2011 New Year Honour List.

Burt had a remarkably varied career – from the Inspector Clouseau and James Bond films, he went on to star in classic TV series The Avengers, The Saint, Doctor Who, Tenko, Last of the Summer Wine, The House of Elliott and many many more.

He could play anything from broad comedy to serious drama. One of his greatest roles was as the conflicted prison camp commandant, Major Yamauchi, in hit BBC1 series Tenko, who demonstrated humanity to his prisoners while also trying to maintain loyalty to the Japanese emperor.

To younger audiences he was best known as Harry Hill's comic foil in his comedy series in the 1990s, while he also provided the voiceover for Channel 4's anarchic gambling show Banzai in the early 2000s.

David Bowie's son, film director Duncan Jones was among the first to pay tribute to Burt on Twitter, saying he was a 'lovely man' who was always willing to work with film students like hmself.


Just heard the wonderful Burt Kwouk has passed away. Lovely man. Was willing to work with film students like myself. pic.twitter.com/JnXayuly9g

— Duncan Jones (@ManMadeMoon) May 24, 2016


Al Murray the Pub Landlord said he was 'very lucky' to have worked with Burt on The Harry Hill Show.


I was very lucky to have worked with Burt Kwouk on the Harry Hill show way back when. "Hey Little Hen, when when when?"

— Al Murray the318 (@almurray) May 24, 2016


Burt Kwouk, 1930-2016. Rest in peace


Patrick McLennan

Patrick McLennan is a London-based journalist and documentary maker who has worked as a writer, sub-editor, digital editor and TV producer in the UK and New Zealand. His CV includes spells as a news producer at the BBC and TVNZ, as well as web editor for Time Inc UK. He has produced TV news and entertainment features on personalities as diverse as Nick Cave, Tom Hardy, Clive James, Jodie Marsh and Kevin Bacon and he co-produced and directed The Ponds, which has screened in UK cinemas, BBC Four and is currently available on Netflix. 

An entertainment writer with a diverse taste in TV and film, he lists Seinfeld, The Sopranos, The Chase, The Thick of It and Detectorists among his favourite shows, but steers well clear of most sci-fi.