Celebrity chef Keith Floyd has died following a heart attack, aged 65.
He died at his partner's Dorset home on Monday, said his autobiography ghost-writer, James Steen. Floyd had been diagnosed with bowel cancer in June.
From Faringdon in Oxfordshire, Floyd shot to fame in the 1980s in ground-breaking cookery shows, fronted with huge enthusiasm and wineglass in hand.
Chef Marco Pierre White described Floyd as a "natural cook" who had "inspired a nation" with his programmes.
Floyd's idiosyncratic, often shambolic style of presentation endeared him to millions of viewers around the world. White said: "What he did to inspire a nation, I don't know another man who has done what he has done.
"He had this great ability at the stove, great confidence. He was a natural cook.
That was his charm, completely, the fact that if it all went wrong he just threw it in the bin and carried on
Celebrity chef Phil Vickery
Obituary: Keith Floyd
"But his very special talent was he could articulate himself and deliver inspiration with words. He spoke in a way that everybody could understand."
He added: "A little piece of Britain died yesterday which will never be replaced.
"He was an individual, he was a maverick, he was mercurial, he was magical, he was special, he was rare."
Celebrity chef Phil Vickery called Floyd "the original television chef".
He opened his first restaurant, Floyd's Bistro, in Bristol, at the age of 22, and its success quickly led to him running three establishments.
But a lack of business acumen that would plague him throughout his career soon forced him to sell up, after which a restaurant in France also proved a failure.
It was on his return to Bristol, running a new bistro near the BBC studios in the city, that Floyd was discovered by television producer David Pritchard.
Their 1985 series, Floyd on Fish, was an instant hit, and subsequent series took the chef all over the world.
The programmes were ground-breaking at the time for taking the cooking out of a studio, but it was Floyd's wine-fuelled flamboyance that viewers loved.
"That was his charm, completely, the fact that if it all went wrong he just threw it in the bin and carried on," said Vickery.
"He didn't live in the sanitised world of perfect studio cookery; he was out and about, he loved his drink and he loved engaging with other people.
"I think he was the untitled British gentleman abroad cooking."
Floyd wrote more than 20 books, many of them best-sellers. His autobiography, Stirred But Not Shaken, is due to be published next month.
Mr Steen, the book's ghost-writer, said: "Writing the book was amazing, it was like a dream come true.
"For an autobiography you have to be introspective and he found that difficult to start with, but yesterday when I spoke to him he was a really happy man.
"He was very excited about it. The experience for him was therapeutic."
Dorset Police said the death had been reported to the coroner for west Dorset, and a routine post-mortem examination would be conducted.