TRIBUTES have been paid to a much-loved comedian of the old-school who has died.

Eli Woods, real name John (Jack) Casey, died peacefully in his Stockton home in the early hours of yesterday, Thursday, morning. He was 91.

Mr Casey (Woods), performed with the likes of Roy Castle and Roy Hudd and Les Dawson was best man at his wedding.

His son, Mark, said the highlight of his father’s career was performing in front of the Queen Mother at the Royal Variety Performance in the 1980s. From a family of entertainers he was especially famous for Animals in the Box routine which was a favourite in theatres for many years.

The funny man's uncle was the very famous Jimmy James and the pair teamed up - legend has it Jimmy's stooge became ill and 'Eli,' then driving for his uncle, was persuaded to stand in at the last minute - and performed together for many years until Jimmy James’ death in 1965.

After that Mr Casey, aka Eli, had many prime time TV appearances on Roy Castle and Les Dawson’s shows as well as many others including the Des O’Connor programme.

Tribute was paid on Twitter to the father–of-five by fellow Teesside entertainer Paul Daniels who said: “RIP Eli Woods from the Jimmy James brilliant comedy act.”

Mark, explained his mother, Pamela, was a dancer working with Les Dawson when Les introduced her to ‘Eli.’ The couple, who lived in the Elm Tree area of Stockton, celebrated their Ruby Wedding last year.

The entertainer, a son of a steelworker who is also survived by a brother and sister, worked in show business for more than 50 years but had retired in his 80s due to failing health. Despite his fame he lived in Stockton his whole life.

Mark said: “He was a gentleman, a true gentleman. He was a loving and caring father and was so well liked by everybody. He would have carried on working if he could.”

Other highlights of the comedian’s career included appearing in the hit Michael Palin film, a Private Function with Maggie Smith and recreating the famous Animals in Box sketch for Michael Parkinson.

He also worked for many years with his cousin, James Casey, who was also very well-known as a comedy writer for BBC.

The legendary Animals in a Box sketch involved the idea of three animals, including an elephant, lion and giraffe being kept in a small box.

At one point Eli is told: "You couldn't get an elephant in there, there's no room." To which he replies: 'You could ask the g-g-giraffe to move over a bit.'