Leslie Phillips, the British actor who starred in the Carry On movie franchise and later voiced the Sorting Hat in the Harry Potter films, has died at the age of 98.
Phillips passed away “peacefully in his sleep” on Monday, his agent Jonathan Lloyd confirmed to the PA news agency.
Though he was famed for his portrayals of upper-class cads, Phillips grew up speaking with a pronounced working-class London accent, having been born in the city’s northern suburb of Tottenham.
He lost the accent while studying drama, 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 alongside Gene Kelly in the musical Les Girls.
Turning down the opportunity to move to Hollywood, he remained in Britain where he went on to star 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!”
Younger generations would, however, recognize Phillips’ voice from the Harry Potter movies as he voiced the sorting hat, which matched the pupils at Hogwarts with one of four school houses: Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw and Slytherin.
Phillips suffered a stroke eight years ago, but was said to have made a strong recovery.
Fellow actor Sanjeev Bhaskar tweeted a video of Phillips from his BBC show The Kumars at No 42.
In the clip, Phillips related how he once found himself stuck in the London Underground surrounded by members of the public demanding he do his catchphrases.
Bhaskar tweeted: “One of the wonderful elements of doing #TheKumars42 was combining guests like here, Madness and the wonderful #LesliePhillips, who couldn’t have been more of a gent. A truly warm, funny and gentle man #RIPLesliePhillips”
Also paying tribute to him was Piers Morgan, who tweeted: “RIP Leslie Phillips, 98.
“Wonderful character & superb comedy actor, best known for his what he called his ‘lecherous twit’ roles in the Carry On & Doctor In The House films with his catchphrases, ‘Ding Dong’, ‘Well, Hello’ and ‘I Say..’ Sad news.”