Funeral tributes to Jimmy Ellis

Published Friday, 21 March 2014
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Tributes have been paid to the actor Jimmy Ellis at his funeral in Belfast on Friday.

Funeral tributes to Jimmy Ellis
Actors James Nesbitt and Adrian Dunbar at the funeral of Jimmy Ellis. (© UTV)

Family and friends gathered at a service of thanksgiving at St Mark's Church, Dundela. The funeral was led by Bishop John McDowell.

Stars of the stage and screen, including James Nesbitt and Tim McGarry, arrived to pay their respects to the late actor.

Former Ballykissangel actor Frankie McCafferty told mourners: "He was the Z-Cars hero of my childhood and the terrifying father of the Billy plays of my teenage years.

"Jimmy became an honorary uncle to me, the kind of uncle that everyone wants. The devil for the craic fella, but he also distinctively knew the right gesture to reach out to you with.

Jimmy taught us to laugh at the ridiculousness of life and, most of all, to find out own voice

Frankie McCafferty, actor

Actress Brid Brennan, who worked with Ellis in the BBC Northern Ireland 'Billy' plays recalled the actor's "powerful presence".

She said: "I was immediately struck by his big personality and powerful presence, but such was Jimmy's enormous generosity, his warmth, his humour and his support of young actors that I never came to feel over-awed by him, but simply to love and admire him.

"Jimmy was an open hearted, open minded, courageous man. A passionate actor who was always true. He was a pleasure and honour to work with."

Enniskillen actor Adrian Dunbar reminisced about watching Jimmy in the hit Z-Cars series, saying: "As a boy I thought it was all taking place in Belfast. So Jimmy came to represent Belfast to me and from the very start he always was Belfast."

Following the service actor James Nesbitt told UTV: "Some of the best times of my life are with Jimmy, he was a trailblazer for all of us.

"He was sensational, a warrior, uncle, father, brother, he was a great carry on, he was sensational man."

A funeral cortege has made its way through Belfast, passing by a number of sites including Ellis' family home in East Belfast, Queen's University and Belfast City Hall.

Following a private burial at a separate site, a wake has been held in central Belfast for invited guests.

Love and generosity flowed from Jimmy.

Brid Brenna, actress

The actor was 82 when he passed away from a stroke earlier this month.

He began his acting career at Belfast's Group Theatre in 1952 and was appointed director of productions in 1959.

Ellis was best known for his role of Bert Lynch in the police drama Z-Cars. He also played alongside a young Kenneth Branagh in the 'Billy' plays.

In 2008 the actor was awarded an honorary doctorate from Queen's University, where he had been a student, for services to the performing arts.

He is survived by his wife, Robina, and their son Toto, his daughter Amanda and three grandchildren.

A special programme about Jimmy Ellis will be broadcast on UTV at 10.35pm on Friday.

© UTV News
Comments Comments
toron cana in belfast wrote (316 days ago):
it is sad to see him go he was a true gentleman and will be sadly missed by everyone who new him. as i remember talking to him years ago about a show he done about a security company that he appeared in with robert lindsay as im too young to remember z cars but use to watch the billy plays we chatted for a while as i was in the chippy working and he came in to get fish and chips as he was going down to his mums house to do painting for her. i later found out that his mum lived two doors away from me i did not know it was his mum but i always remember saying hello to her on my way past she was a nice woman also just like her son. so rest in peace mucker.
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