Mel Smith was a popular British comic actor, writer and director of TV and character actor of film who began his career as a busy and versatile stage director. Smith gained some notoriety on the trend-setting comedy "Not the Nine O'Clock News" (BBC, 1979-1982) with Griff Rhys Jones and Rowan Atkinson. Not unlike the early "Saturday Night Live," the series was an irreverent satirical revue that ran the gamut from purely tasteless to memorably brilliant. Smith teamed with Jones to write and star in the top-rated sketch-comedy program "Alas Smith and Jones" (BBC, 1984-1998). He acted in the stage versions of both series and directed "Not in Front of the Audience," based on "Not the Nine O'Clock News," and remained a key influence on later generations of British comedians. He died in 2013.