Frank Carson dies, aged 85
Northern Irish comedian Frank Carson, known for his catchphrases such as “It’s the way I tell ‘em!” and “It’s a cracker!”, has died, aged 85. He had been battling cancer for a number of years. He died at his family home in Blackpool on Wednesday morning, and it is believed that his funeral will be held in his hometown of Belfast.
The standup rose to fame in the 1960s after winning the talent show Opportunity Knocks three times. He would later star in The Comedians and Tiswas during the 1970s. He was still touring in the UK until recently, taking part in around 80 events per year. However, he began to develop heart problems and he was diagnosed with stomach cancer last year.
His family said, in a statement:
"(the) husband, father, Gaga and comedian set off for his final gig today. 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 Weates, 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."
Journalist and friend of the comedian, Eddie McIlwaine, recalled the time when Carson shared jokes with the Pope: "He met the present Pope (Benedict XVI) and the Pope said 'did you ever meet Elvis Presley?' and Frank said, 'No I have not, but it won't be long now'." Frank Carson was knighted into the Order of St Gregory in 1987 by Pope John II, in recognition of his charity work.
McIlwaine added: "He was not just a comedian on stage, he was always a funny man and an expert at the one-liner, he was a naturally born comedian."
Frank Carson will be sorely missed and it can be certainly said: It was the way he told ‘em.