Frank Carson dies aged 85

Published Wednesday, 22 February 2012
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Northern Ireland's king of comedy, Frank Carson, has died aged 85.

The stand-up, famed for his catchphrases "It's a cracker" and "It's the way I tell 'em", passed away at his home in Blackpool on Wednesday.

He had been battling cancer for some time.

In a statement, Frank's family said he was a "husband, father, Gaga and comedian" who had "set off for his final gig today".

They 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," the statement continued.

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

Frank Carson was born in north Belfast on 6 November 1926 to a family of Italian descent.

A familiar face on UTV, the much-loved entertainer rose to fame with his trademark irreverent and irrepressible sense of humour.

He won the talent show Opportunity Knocks three times in the 1960s and went on to appear in The Comedians and Tiswas.

His good friend Eamonn Holmes has led the tributes.

He was one-of-a-kind; he was Mr Northern Ireland.

Eamonn Holmes

"The term legend is often overused - but Frank Carson was a legend and we will never ever see his likes again," Mr Holmes told UTV, speaking from London.

"I knew him since I was a child because he was a friend of my father. I was just with him recently and I spoke to him throughout his illness.

"He was just a complete bundle of energy and at 85 he was still going and still cracking jokes.

"He immortalised the phrase we will all remember him for - it's a cracker."

Comedian John Linehan, better known as May McFettridge, also knew Frank Carson well.

He remembered him as a tireless campaigner for charities and integrated education.

"He did so much work for charity," Mr Linehan told UTV.

"It was only at the tail end of last year that he started getting ill, and he wanted me to step in for him at the Lyric Theatre to host a show for integrated education.

"His son Tony was there. Frank asked me to do it and it was a pleasure to do it for him.

"He will be sorely missed and he never forgot where he came from."

Frank dedicated much of his life to looking after his wife Ruth, who had serious eyesight problems, with his sons Tony and Aidan and daughter Majella, despite his own heart problems.

They have also put a huge effort into bringing the two sides of the community in Northern Ireland together through education.

He continued to perform his stand-up show until last December and one of his final performances was for the Duke of Edinburgh.

Plans are being made for a funeral in Belfast.

© UTV News
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17 Comments
Roberta McFarlane in Belfast wrote (784 days ago):
Frank will be sadly missed. I always remember when my dad, who passed almost 4 years ago, went on holiday to Blackpool, if Frank was performing, he always made time to meet up with my dad, have a yarn and crack a few jokes. They played football together in their younger years. He was a comedy genius in his own rights. Night Night Frank, God Bless x McFarlane family, Belfast
dmmg in ni wrote (785 days ago):
What a pity some of our so called comedians today don't take a leaf out of Frank's book, and drop the foul language, and tell funny jokes. Perhaps the bad language is their only hope of filling the time. It's time to clean up your acts. Good night Frank and God bless. D&M
colin in newry wrote (785 days ago):
simply the best !
Jimmy Mac in Montreal wrote (785 days ago):
Rest in peace. Frank.I remember my school friends and I seeing Frank performing at the old Troxy picture house.in the early 60s, he was great..He had us all in stitches laughing and giggling.Ah, that was Belfast in the good old times.
norman.d in bangor wrote (785 days ago):
if this world had more frank carsons it would be a better place a genuine and caring man who never forgot his roots or its people
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