Put the fun in funeral

Malcolm Hardee's send-off

Johnny Vegas, Harry Hill and Arthur Smith were among the hundreds of mourners who bid farewell to Malcolm Hardee in suitably unconventional style at his funeral this week.

Jo Brand, Keith Allen and Jenny Eclair, also joined family, friends, and fans of alternative comedy's most roguish figure at a suitably irreverent ceremony in St Alfege's Church in Greenwich.

After the ceremony, which featured a man singing Nessun Dorma in a blonde wig and playing a toy guitar, the coffin was carried out of the church to Elvis's Return To Sender, a song Hardee had chosen himself for the occasion.

His son Frank, an Oxford student, said life with his dad was like a "crazy, mixed up episode of EastEnders."

And Arthur Smith joked: "Everything about him was original - apart from his stand-up act."

Hardee drowned earlier this month at the age of 55, when he fell from a dinghy crossing Deptford Creek from his floating pub, the Wibbly Wobbly, to his houseboat on the opposite bank.

After the service, Vic Reeves told the Daily Telegraph: "He lived his life for comedy. He was such a hedonist and everyone has their Malcolm story.

"He gave us a lot of help when we started out at the Tunnel Club. He would put me on then clear off, leaving me to deal with the crowd."

And Bill Bailey told the South London Press: "It was the best funeral I have ever been to. It was amazing... funny and touching. The vicar had to raise his game with a church full of comedians."


Published: 20 Feb 2005

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