keith harris
Keith Harris performing with puppet Orville the Duck during the Royal Variety Performance in 1984 Getty

Keith Harris, the ventriloquist best known for working with the puppet Orville the Duck, has died aged 67, his agent has confirmed.

The entertainer, whose career in showbiz lasted more than 50 years, was famous for working with the giant green duck as well as Cuddles the Monkey.

He shot to fame in the 1980s with his TV programme The Keith Harris Show, which ran for eight years before it ended in 1990. He also had a UK Top 10 hit single in 1982 with Orville's Song.

He died aged 67 at Blackpool Victoria Hospital following a battle with cancer.

Harris's agent, Robert C Kelly, announced the news of his death with "great sadness".

Kelly added: "It is with great sadness I announce the death of my friend and client Keith Harris (67) whom I have known for well over 20 years and managed for the past 15 years.

"I spoke to Keith most days whether we had business to do or not. I think I laughed every single time we spoke.

"Keith was not only a technically great ventriloquist, he was also a gifted mimic and an extraordinarily funny man both onstage and off.

"Perhaps even rarer than that in showbiz, he was a thoroughly decent man, a great friend and a wonderful father and husband.

"The family have asked for privacy at this time."

During his career, Harris performed at both Prince William and Prince Harry's third birthdays at the request of Princess Diana. He also appeared at a total of appeared on a total of five Royal, and Children's Royal Variety Performances.

In the later part of his career, he appeared in Channel Five reality show The Farm, as well as reinventing himself as a X-rated ventriloquist while touring student unions with his show, Duck Off.

He was diagnosed with a very rare form of cancer with no cure after he had swelling in his abdomen. After undergoing stem-cell replacement treatment during the summer of 2014, doctors told Harris the cancer had spread to his liver and was untreatable.

"Over the past few months, Keith has enjoyed several holidays to his second home in Portugal, taking walks along the Blackpool sea front and sitting in the park eating ice cream and watching the world go by," said Kelly.