Mike Leigh has led the tributes to British film producer Simon Channing Williams, who died of canceron April 11 at his home in Cornwall, England.

Leigh, who founded Thin Man Films with Channing Williams in 1988, said: “Simon was a big, generous man who loved people and films. He was a natural-born producer, always supportive, but never interfering. He leaves an epic gap in so many of our lives. It’s hard to imagine the world without this lovable, loving human being.”

Gail Egan, Channing Williams’ producing partner at Potboiler Productions, said: “Nothing I can say could be enough, or express my sense of loss. He was larger than life.’ She referred to his passionate love for family, film and Famous Grouse whiskey.

David Cornwell, better known as the writer John Le Carre, was a personal friend of Channing Williams. Potboiler turned the Le Carre novel The Constant Gardener into the 2006 Oscar-winner.

“Simon was that rarest thing in the film industry: a producer of transparent decency and honesty who never raised his voice or broke a promise or made an enemy who didn’t deserve to be one,” Cornwell said. “We had eight wonderful years of personal friendship and professional collaboration, and never a bad word. Beat that.”

Sam Nichols, managing director of Momentum Pictures, described him as “inspirational, charismatic, brilliantly diplomatic and a real gentleman”.

Nichols worked with Channing Williams on his most recent collaboration with Leigh, Happy-Go-Lucky, along with Sally Caplan, head of the UKFC Premiere Fund. Caplan described him as “a complete professional and a lovely warm and funny man”

David Garrett, president of Summit International, who also worked with him on Happy-Go-Lucky, said: ” He was always very solicitous of others’ opinions, and his loyalty was clearly manifest in his extraordinarily close and long-lasting partnerships with both Mike and Gail.”

Tessa Ross, Channel 4 controller of film and drama, described him as ‘a very rare, kind, courteous and supportive colleague and a dogged, creative and driven producer’. She added: “It has been a huge privilege knowing Simon, working with him and counting him as a friend.”