AN ACTOR who “lit up the room” and brushed shoulders with Sir Laurence Olivier has died.

Peacehaven resident Alan Baker died at the age of 83 on March 25.

He spent most of his life acting in theatre, films and on the radio but later became Telscombe correspondent for the Sussex Express and Eastbourne Herald.

Longtime friend and writer Tony Flood said his death was a tremendous loss.

He said: “He was such a big, charismatic personality and talent,and a wonderful friend to myself and my wife Heather.

“But he had the courage to stand up to those he disagreed with.”

After studying at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art Alan made his name as a young actor in the West End.

Starring as The Winslow Boy in the titular production at the Haymarket Theatre in the Fifties, Alan worked his way up the entertainment world and rubbed shoulders with legendary actors such as Sir Laurence Olivier, Dame Edith Evans and Sir Ralph Richardson.

His brushes with stardom paid off in spades at the dinner table – the actor was renowned for his entertaining stories.

“One time he was taking a smoking break while he performed in Richard III in 1958 at the Old Vic,” friend Tony recalled.

“Sir Laurence Olivier joined him and started smoking Olivier cigarettes named after him.

“Sir Laurence asked Alan why he smoked his particular brand.

“’Because you get Cubans in these,’ said Alan.

“‘Well you get parts with mine,’ replied Sir Laurence.”

But Alan was not afraid to be critical of his fellow professionals.

He publicly claimed renowned theatre actress Flora Robson “did not come across well on screen” despite her brilliance on stage.

He once said: “Close-up shots of some actors and actresses could portray a face that only a mother would love or age them considerably.”

In later years he acted and directed theatre in Seaford and Brighton and chaired the Anderida Writers’ club in Eastbourne.

Fellow actor and theatrical agent Samuel Nunn said he “lit up the room”.

“He’ll be missed dearly and I hope to have a memorial service sorted for him once we are out of quarantine,” he said.

"He had so many incredible and funny anecdotes about his co-stars, such as Peggy Ashcroft, Joe Orton and the queen of theatre Judi Dench. His charisma would light up a room.

“I can imagine he’s laughing at us now that he’s managed to get out of quarantine before we did.”