Frank Carson dies aged 85 – after a final one-liner

 

Lewis Smith

Frank Carson, the comedian who became a household name with his catchphrases "It's a cracker," and "It's the way I tell 'em," has died aged 85 after a battle with stomach cancer.

He was described as "one of the nicest people in showbiz" and was one of a generation of comedians that included Eric Morecambe, Bernard Manning and Tommy Cooper.

He was also a committed Catholic and in 1987 was made a Knight of St Gregory, the highest honour in the Roman Catholic Church, by the then pope John Paul II, for the charity work he had carried out in Ulster.

Carson died at his home in Blackpool surrounded by his family who said in a statement that he had "set off for his final gig", adding: "It's quieter down here now. God help them up there!" He was born in Belfast where his family intend to lay him to rest.

His spokesman said last night: "Frank will be remembered for being a wonderful stand up 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."

Three years ago he was given the last rites following a hernia operation but survived and despite being in his 80s continued his stand-up career in towns and cities across the country.

Carson said recently that he believed being able to make people laugh was "something that's in your genes" and described his father, a bin man, as "one of the funniest people I've ever known".

Much of his humour in recent years related to age and death and he said more than once that he planned to have on inscribed on his gravestone the words, "Quiet, isn't it?"

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