Leslie Phillips, the British actor who starred in the Carry On film franchise and later voiced the Sorting Hat in the Harry Potter films, has died aged 98.
Phillips died “peacefully in his sleep” on Monday, his agent Jonathan Lloyd confirmed to the PA news agency.
Although famous for his portrayals of upper-class cads, Phillips grew up speaking with a pronounced working-class London accent, having been born in the northern city suburb of Tottenham.
He lost his accent while studying theatre, dance and elocution at the prestigious Italia Conti Stage School.
His first film appearances came in the 1930s, but it wasn’t until well after the war, when he served as a lieutenant in the Durham Light Infantry, that he got his big break opposite Gene Kelly in the musical The Girls.
Turning down the chance to move to Hollywood, she stayed in Britain where she starred in three Carry On films: Carry On Nurse, Carry On Teacher and Carry on Constable. He became a household name, known for his suggestive catchphrases: “Ding Dong!” “Well, hello” and “I say!”
However, younger generations would recognize Phillips’ voice from the Harry Potter films as he uttered the Sorting Hat, which matched Hogwarts students to one of four schools: Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw and Slytherin.
Phillips suffered a stroke eight years ago, but was said to have made a strong recovery.
His colleague Sanjeev Bhaskar tweeted a video of Phillips from his BBC show The Kumars at number 42.
In the clip, Phillips explained how he once found himself stuck on the London Underground surrounded by members of the public asking him to deliver his lines.
Bhaskar tweeted: “One of the wonderful elements of making #TheKumars42 was combining guests like here, Madness and the wonderful #LesliePhillips who couldn’t have been more people. A truly warm, funny and kind man #RIPLEsliePhillips”
He was also paid tribute by Piers Morgan, who tweeted: “RIP Leslie Phillips, 98.
“A wonderful character and an excellent comedy actor, best known for what he called his ‘lusty’ roles in the Carry On films and Doctor In The House with his catchphrases, ‘Ding Dong’, ‘ Well, Hello’ and ‘I Say’. “Sad news.”