Fans and fellow entertainment stars are paying tribute to Bobby Ball who has died aged 76, after testing positive for coronavirus.
Born in Oldham in 1944, Ball enjoyed a long career as a comedian, actor, and half of the comedy duo Cannon & Ball.
Along with his longtime friend Tommy Cannon, Ball hosted The Cannon and Ball Show on ITV for nine years from 1979 to 1988. They also starred in the 1982 film The Boys in Blue and made guest appearances on The Kenny Everett Show and Shooting Stars.
As well as his comedy career, Ball enjoyed regular TV roles in shows such as Last of the Summer Wine, Mount Pleasant, and The Cockfields.
In 2005, he appeared on the fifth series of I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!, during which he was the sixth campmate to leave the jungle.
In recent years, he was arguably best known as Frank on the BBC sitcom Not Going Out, which he had played since 2009. He last appeared in the show’s 10th series, which aired in 2019.
Tommy Cannon led the tributes to Ball, saying he was “devastated” upon learning of his friend’s death.
A statement from his manager, Phil Dale, said: “Bobby had been taken to the hospital for tests as he started with breathing problems.
”At firstm it was thought to be a chest infection but a test proved positive for Covid-19.
“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.
“Yvonne added that their need for privacy at this time has to be a priority. No further announcements or statements will be made.”
Cannon said: “Rock on, my good friend, I can't believe this, I'm devastated.”
Tommy Cannon and Bobby Ball in 2001
Comedian Jason Manford tweeted: “So heartbroken to read about the passing of comedy legend Bobby Ball. Such a hilarious man. The comedy community is a poorer place without him.”
Shane Richie paid an emotional tribute, explaining that he had been a hero who became a friend.
“35yrs ago my HERO became my friend,” Richie wrote. “You always knew when Bobby was in the room, he could make you laugh & cry with just a look. The biggest heart & warmest smile that filled stages everywhere. I loved you bobby ball and I always will ,Truly truly one of a kind .sleep well cocker!”.
This Morning hosts Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby both paid tribute to Ball on their show.
Schofield said: “He was such a lovely man. A genuinely lovely, sweet, kind man.”
Willoughby added: “Yes. Such a lovely man... and our thoughts are obviously with his friends and family at this time. Sending you all lots of love.”
Bobby Ball in 2018
Actor Diane Morgan, who starred alongside Ball in The Cockfields, tweeted: “So sad to hear about Bobby Ball. He was such a treat to work with. Never stopped making us all laugh. We'll miss you Bobby!”.
Loose Women's Sherrie Hewson tweeted: “Heartbroken that my gorgeous funny talented generous friend Bobby Ball has gone . He made me laugh more than anyone I know . He will be so missed by millions . He will always be in our hearts . Love you Bobs xxxxxx."