Video report by ITV News Reporter Sangita Lai
Bobby Ball, one half of the comedy double act Cannon & Ball, has died at the age of 76 after testing positive for Covid-19, his manager has said.
The comedian, actor and author had been in hospital with breathing problems.A statement said: “It is with great personal sadness that on behalf of Yvonne Ball, and the family, and Tommy Cannon, I announce that Bobby Ball passed away at Blackpool Victoria Hospital on the 28th October 2020 approximately 21:30.
“Bobby had been taken to the hospital for tests as he started with breathing problems. At first it was thought to be a chest infection but a test proved positive for Covid-19.
In a 1981 interview, Bobby told Channel Television the secret behind his partnership with Tommy Cannon
“His wife Yvonne said the hospital and staff could not have been more wonderful, as they were outstanding in their care of duty and they did everything possible for him and she cannot praise them enough.
“She said that the family and Tommy would like to express their sincere thanks to the many, many people who have been fans of Bobby and they know that they will all share in part the great loss and total sadness that Yvonne, the family and Tommy all feel."
Ball’s wife Yvonne said: “I will always miss him, he was so joyful, full of fun and mischievous.”
Tommy Cannon said: “Rock on, my good friend, I can’t believe this, I’m devastated.”
As one half of the comedy duo who shot to stardom in the later 1970s and into the 80s, Ball was famous for his outfit of bow tie and braces, with the catchphrase: "Rock on, Tommy!"
Ball’s manager Phil Dale said: “Bobby was a true comedy star who loved entertaining people and he loved life itself. I spoke to him every day and it would always end in laughter.”
Comedian Jason Manford tweeted to say he was "heartbroken" about the passing of such a "hilarious" man.
Les Dennis tweeted: "Just heard the sad news that the wonderful Bobby Ball has died. He was a true entertainer with real funny bones. Thoughts with Tommy, Yvonne and his family at this sad time. RIP Bobby."
Ant and Dec tweeted: "So sad to hear of the passing of Bobby Ball, one of my absolute favourite performers growing up and one of our favourite ever camp mates on I'm a Celebrity. Rest In Peace Bobby."
Piers Morgan described him as a "wonderfully funny man" in his own tweeted tribute.Ball was born Robert Harper on January 28 1944 and found fame on the The Cannon & Ball Show opposite his lifelong friend Tommy Cannon.
He also appeared in TV series including Last Of The Summer Wine, Heartbeat, Mount Pleasant, Benidorm, The Cockfields and Not Going Out, and the duo appeared on I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! in 2005.