Great Britain

Bobby Ball was a Bradford panto king and held Avenue scarf

COMEDY legend Bobby Ball has died aged 76 after testing positive for covid, but he performed in Bradford on regular occasions throughout his career.

Alongside long time comedy partner Tommy Cannon, they performed at a number of pantomimes at Bradford’s Alhambra Theatre, going back more than 40 years.

Here is a list of when Cannon and Ball came to Bradford and other stories and times Bobby Ball came to the district.

Cannon and Ball at Alhambra Theatre for panto:

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Cannon and Ball perform in the 1980 Alhambra pantoCannon and Ball perform in the 1980 Alhambra panto

1987 panto

A bearded Tommy Cannon and thumb- sucking Bobby Ball (on his 43rd birthday in January, 1987) received a giant Pudsey Bear on behalf of Barnados from Bob and Anne Waine when then comedy duo appeared in that year’s Alhambra panto.

The couple had won the larger-than-life cuddly toy in a competition organised by the National Provincial Building Society

1998

Funnyman Bobby Ball opened his heart to an audience of hundreds in Bradford to tell them how he gave up a life of hard drinking and womanising - thanks to a chance encounter with a vicar at the Alhambra Theatre.

The comedian and his partner Tommy Cannon, who are both born-again Christians, appeared on stage in March 1998 at the Abundant Life Centre in Wapping Road as part of the church's £1 million Enlarge the Place campaign which raised an amazing £600,000 from one fund-raising day a fortnight ago.

About 700 people packed the building to hear the duo go through a routine loved by millions in their TV shows of the Eighties.

Bobby, who was wearing his trade-mark braces, was moved to tears as he explained how their relationship had deteriorated after they hit the big time and both were seduced by the trappings of fame.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

He said he himself was drinking up to a bottle-and-a-half of whisky a day and had a string of affairs, even becoming involved in sex orgies.

But all that changed when he was playing in pantomime at the Alhambra Theatre and met the theatre's chaplain, Max Wigley, who set him on a different path following a chance conversation.

He returned several weeks later to visit Mr Wigley at his home in Bradford where they said a prayer together.

"Three lines into the prayer I felt this warmth go through my body," he said.

"I felt God come into me and I started to cry like a baby and I knew God was real."

He said the episode 12 years before in 1986 changed his life and seven years later he was delighted when his comedy partner Tommy also turned to God.

The pair, who gave their services free, said they had both thoroughly enjoyed themselves and praised the fantastic atmosphere in the church.

2002

A Bradford woman has lost the chance to claim her Lottery winnings - because she's star-struck by comedian Bobby Ball.

Barbara Gardner, pictured, was delighted when she scooped a £10 win on a lucky dip ticket on the National Lottery, but was shocked to find out she could not claim the cash, because her favourite funnyman Bobby had autographed the back of the ticket.

National Lottery organisers said their rules state the cash now belongs to him as his signature is on the ticket.

Mrs Gardner's cash dilemma began when she met her favourite comedian of 30 years when he performed at the Abundant Life Centre in Bradford and dashed for his autograph after the "spectacular" show.

She laughed: "I should have asked him to sign the one with my regular numbers on! I know it's only ten pounds but what if I had won 10 million? I would be up in court against Bobby Ball!"

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

2004

Comedian Bobby Ball was in Ilkley to unveil an art show which has been a major part of the town's calendar for 25 years.

Half of the comedy duo Cannon and Ball, Mr Ball officially opened the British Society of Painters autumn exhibition at the Kings Hall and Winter Gardens.

And while he was at the event Mr Ball revealed that it was very fitting he was there because he was to play a character called the Swan Man of Ilkley in BBC1's Last of the Summer Wine series.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

2006

Both Bobby and Tommy were also pictured holding a Bradford (Park Avenue) scarf in 2006. Maybe they were secret fans of the club?

Bobby at St George’s Hall

Cannon and Ball's other Bradford appearances include comedy show Ha Ha Hood! And The Prince Of Leaves in 2014, and the Best of British Variety Show at in 2008, both at St George's Hall.

Flying solo in 2016

Bobby also performed solo at All Saints Church in Ilkley in 2016 in an 'entertaining and thought-provoking evening' talking about how fame and fortune left him searching for more and led him to find faith.

He played the role of an Ilkley resident in the long-running series Last of the Summer Wine.

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