A state of emergency has been declared in Albania this morning after it was announced that the country's favourite adopted son, British comedian Sir Norman Wisdom, had died at the age of 95.
Wisdom, real name, Norman Pitkin, passed away peacefully at a nursing home on the Isle of Man on Monday evening, having suffered a series of strokes over the past six months.
The London-born star was known for his slapstick film roles in the 1950s and 1960s, famously playing himself against frustrated boss Mr Grimsdale.
Sir Norman became a cult figure in Albania, where his were the only films from the West allowed in the country. The people of Albania took Wisdom to their hearts, dressing like he did, and displaying his confused look, cheeky grin and infectious outbursts of giggling, even when there was nothing to laugh at, which there rarely is in Albania, the poorest place in Europe.
A statement from a 'Mr Grimsdale' at the Foreign Ministry in Tirana this morning said:
"Sir Norman Wisdom sadly passed away at Abbotswood Nursing Home on the Isle of Man at precisely 18:46pm on 4 October 2010. The country of Albania is inconsolable. We have lost a great clown, a good friend, and the only thing we ever had to laugh at."
It went on:
"There has been sporadic violence in the south of the country, and the military has had to intervene to quell several riots. The government has decided to call a state of emergency to bring the country under control, and the citizens have been told not to go to work for a week, if they have work to go to, which is extremely unlikely."
Lyricist Sir Tim Rice, who worked with Sir Norman later on in his career, said:
"He was a childhood hero of mine, when I was at school, which was a long time ago, I can tell you. I went on an Albanian tour with Norman. He was adored there, and we were mobbed everywhere we went by children. And a few grisly old grandmas."
Sir Norman received his knighthood in 2000, and was described in a mime by Charlie Chaplin in 1931 as his "favourite clown".
The authorities in Tirana have said that chuckling has been outlawed for the duration of the 7 days mourning period, and that all flat caps should be removed as a mark of respect to Mr Wisdom.