Channel 4 dedicates Christmas Gogglebox to Leon Bernicoff

Channel 4 dedicated its Christmas Gogglebox show to late cast member Leon Bernicoff.
Leon Bernicoff died aged 83 after a short illness. Picture: Yui Mok/PA WireLeon Bernicoff died aged 83 after a short illness. Picture: Yui Mok/PA Wire
Leon Bernicoff died aged 83 after a short illness. Picture: Yui Mok/PA Wire

Fan favourite Bernicoff died on Saturday at the age of 83 after a short illness.

At the start of Sunday night’s instalment, an announcer said: “Before Gogglebox begins, we’re sorry to share the very sad news that Leon passed away in hospital yesterday.

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“He will be sorely missed and we dedicate tonight’s show to his memory.”

The programme opened with previously recorded footage of Bernicoff trying some Christmas sweets.

Viewers said it was the perfect tribute to Bernicoff, who became a central character on the show with his wife June after it first launched in 2013.

“What fitting tribute to @LeonAndJune. Leon scoffing the sweets and June busy cleaning up after him. #Gogglebox just knows how we love to remember him. R.I.P Sir!” one person said on Twitter.

Another posted: “Wonderful tribute and dedication to Leon just before tonight’s #Gogglebox. Rest in Peace, Leon, you legend.”

Leon’s wife June Bernicoff wished fans a happy Christmas and thanked them for their support following the death of her husband.

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June and Leon were one of the first couples to join the Channel 4 show when it launched in 2013.

On Christmas morning, June tweeted: “Wishing Everyone a Happy Christmas! Thank you once more for your kind thoughts. Greatly appreciated by all the family!”

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Tributes poured him from celebrities following the news of the retired teacher’s death in hospital after a short illness.

Gogglebox co-stars Steph and Dom posted on Twitter: “So terribly sorry to hear the dreadful news about Leon!! Our hearts are with June and his family - what a dreadful loss to us all - he was always so cheeky and adored - the show will never be the same without him #leonliveson Huge #Chinchin in his honour.”

TV’s Scarlett Moffatt, who first rose to fame on the hit show, was among the first to share her memories of the Gogglebox “grandfather”, posting: “Words can’t explain what you meant to so many people.

“From your words of encouragement to me to the little DMs. Leon you were loved by so many. Sending my love to you and all of your family.”

Bernicoff’s mischievous attitude - which included unfiltered remarks about politicians and television personalities and cheeky bickering with his wife - also proved a hit with Coronation Street stars.

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Lucy Fallon tweeted: “So heartbroken to hear the sad news ... @LeonAndJune Leon always reminded me of my Grandad.. very witty and absolutely adored. Gogglebox will never be the same without him.”

Jennie McAlpine added: “So sad to hear about lovely Leon. He was a total #gogglebox delight. Thinking of his dear June.”

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Singer Liam Gallagher, who starred in a charity special of the show with his mother and son this year, posted: “RIP Leon Gogglebox as you were LG x.”

Strictly Come Dancing 2016 winner Ore Oduba added: “So sad to hear about Leon’s passing. An absolute favourite in our house. His and June’s love after 60 years marriage such a beautiful example to all of us... sending June and the family lots of love at this time of year.”

In a statement to the Press Association on Saturday, Channel 4 and Gogglebox creators Studio Lambert said: “It is with a heavy heart that we announce the sad news that after a short illness Gogglebox’s Leon Bernicoff passed away in hospital earlier today.

“Leon and his wife June were the first members of the public to be cast for Gogglebox back in early 2013 and they soon grew to become much-loved voices during the course of the show’s 10 series to date.

“Leon’s unique personality and sharp wit endeared him to fans of the show as he contributed fully to Gogglebox’s reputation as a programme full of warm humour and unvarnished opinion.

“To those of us that knew him personally, Leon was a man of unwavering principles who exerted a distinct paternal presence both on and off screen. He will be dearly missed by the entire Gogglebox family; cast and crew.”

Bernicoff was born on October 27 1934. He is survived by wife June, two daughters, sons-in-law and grandchildren.