Tributes paid to Frank Carson

'God help them up there!'

Tributes have been paid to stand-up Frank Carson, who has died at the age of 85.

The Belfast-born comic had been ill for several years, suffering problems with his heart and underwent an operation for stomach cancer last year. Nonetheless, he continued to perform his stand-up show until December last year.

He rose to fame after winning the Opportunity Knocks talent show three times, in the Sixties, and was a regular face on The Comedians in the Seventies, popularizing his catchphrases 'it's the way I tell 'em' and ‘it’s a cracker!’

In a statement, his family said: 'He went peacefully at his home in Blackpool surrounded by his greatest fans - his extended family. We will be taking him home to Belfast to lay him to rest and celebrate his joyful life.

'It's quieter down here now. God help them up there!'

His spokesman Ashley Yeates said: 'It is with great sadness that we have to announce the passing of Frank Carson.

'Frank will be remembered for being a wonderful standup comedian from the golden era of light entertainment on television shows such as The Comedians, Tiswas, Opportunity Knocks and many, many more.

'His audience and friends alike will remember him as a genuine, kind-hearted and generous man who was also very funny because of "the way he told 'em".

'We will remember him as one of the nicest people in showbiz, a gentleman and a friend.'

Ken Dodd said: ‘He was a wonderful comedian, a fabulous jolly jester and had a fantastic gift of making people feel happy. His humour was always mainstream - he didn't do dirty or obscene comedy.’

Sir Bruce Forsyth told ITV News: ‘The only trouble with Frank, as far as I'm concerned, is that he made me laugh too much.’

Eamonn Holmes said: ‘The term legend is often overused - but Frank Carson was a legend and we will never ever see his likes again.’

And Chris Tarrant, who appeared alongside Carson on Tiswas, told BBC Radio 5 Live: ‘He was the funniest man I have met in my life and would tell jokes relentlessly - there was not anyone like him.’

Spike Milligan is said to have joked: ‘What’s the difference between Frank Carson and the M1? You can turn off the M1.’

Sir Michael Parkinson also mourned the old-school style of comedy which he thought died with Carson, saying: ‘People's sense of humour has changed, this generation laugh at different things. [In Carson’s] time, comedians could talk about fat women and people with bow legs, I doubt whether he'd enjoy going on TV today, with all the strictures that are put on people.’

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.

Here he is in action:

Published: 23 Feb 2012

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