Frank Carson

Frank Carson

Date of birth: 06-11-1926
Date of death: 22-02-2012

Born in Belfast, Carson worked in the building trade before joining the Parachure Regiment, wher he mainly served in the Middle East in the Forties.

He became a comic in Ireland before moving to England, where herose to fame after winning the Opportunity Knocks talent show three times, in the Sixties.

He became a regular face on The Comedians in the Seventies, popularizing his catchphrases 'it's the way I tell 'em' and ‘it’s a cracker!’, and then on the children's TV show Tiswas. His relentless style is said to have prompted Spike Milligan to have joked: ‘What’s the difference between Frank Carson and the M1? You can turn off the M1.’

Carson also did plenty of charity work and was given the highest honour in the Catholic church when he was made a Knight of St Gregory by Pope John Paul II in 1987.

He was bugged by health problems, undergoing heart surgery as early as 1976 and struggling with stomach cancer late in life. Nonetheless, he continued to perform his stand-up show until December 2011, barely three months before his death.

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It's the way I retell 'em!

Frank Carson is the subject of new stage play

NOTE: The run of the show mentioned below has been cancelled since this story was published.

Frank Carson is to be the subject of a new stage play – in which he'll be played by his contemporary on The Comedians, Mike McCabe.

The pair worked together several times in the 1980s, but their relationship is described as a 'love-hate' one.

McCabe said there was a 'rivalry' and a 'backstage tension' between the pair – with Carson said to feel threatened by his younger rival, who came to prominence after winning TV talent show New Faces.

However, Carson also told impressionist McCabe that his was the best impersonation of him that he had ever seen.

Now Kevin Devine, the former That's Life! presenter,has written a play based on McCabe's experiences with Carson, who died in 2012 at the age of 85.

If I Didn't Laugh, I'd Cry also explores Carson's upbringing in poverty in 1930s Belfast, his three years in The Parachute Regiment and the dilemma he faced with always being on the road and away from his growing family.

It also includes some of Carson's jokes – as heard on Opportunity Knocks, The Wheeltappers and Shunters Social Club and The Comedians.

The play will debut with a week-long run at the Lion and Unicorn Theatre in Kentish Town, North London, on June 13.

It is directed by comedian Kevin Shepherd and produced by Chris Mellor, whose previous shows about dead comedians have included the Les Dawson tribute Cissie and Ada: An Hysterical Rectomy and Three Days and Three Minutes with Larry, about Larry Grayson.

McCabe's son Milo is also a comedian, known for alter-egos such as Philberto and Tory Hawke.

Here is a trailer of If I Didn't Laugh, I'd Cry.

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Published: 16 May 2016

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