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Director and food critic Michael Winner dies aged 77

Film director and restaurant critic Michael Winner has died, his wife Geraldine said today. He was 77. Photo: David Jones/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Film director and restaurant critic Michael Winner has died today at the age of 77.

Winner died at his home in Kensington, London, after having been ill for some time.

His wife, Geraldine Lynton, paid tribute to him in a statement: "Michael was a wonderful man, brilliant, funny and generous.

"A light has gone out in my life."

Winner had a long film career which spanned over 50 years, during which he worked with stars including Marlon Brando, Robert Mitchum and Faye Dunaway.

He directed a remake of the classic The Big Sleep, but was best known for the 1974 film Death Wish, which starred Charles Bronson as an architect who becomes a vigilante after his family is attacked in New York.

Later in life he became a restaurant critic, writing a weekly column called Winner's Dinners in the Sunday Times, penning his final column in December due to poor health.

Michael Winner worked with Marlon Brando for the film Nightcomers Credit: Zuma Press/Zuma Press/Press Association Images

Winner also founded and maintained the Police Memorial Trust, following the murder of WPC Yvonne Fletcher outside the Libyan embassy in London in 1984.

The trust has honoured over 50 officers at sites across the country.

Steve Lloyd, Trust manager and Vice-chairman said: "Michael had been ill for some time, but this is still a sad loss."Michael was a keen supporter of police charities and in particular was the founder of the project that let to the National Police Memorial being placed in the Mall in London.

"The work he did on behalf of the policing family brought a lot of comfort to those he recognised."

Winner also became known to wider audiences for his appearances in insurance company ESure's advertisements, coining the catchphrase "calm down dear, it's only a commercial."

Celebrities including Paul McKenna and broadcaster Danny Baker also paid tribute to Michael Winner via Twitter.