Mourners say final farewell to comedian Bobby Ball

By Eleanor Barlow, PA
·3-min read

Mourners including the Nolan sisters have said a final farewell to comedian Bobby Ball, as his funeral procession passed Blackpool Tower.

The Cannon & Ball star was laid to rest on Tuesday following a funeral at Hope Church in Lytham, Lancashire.

The comedian, who found fame as part of the double act in the 1970s and 1980s, died at Blackpool Victoria Hospital on October 28 aged 76 after testing positive for Covid-19.

Comedy partner Tommy Cannon was among mourners attending the private service, which was invitation-only due to coronavirus restrictions.

But friends and fans gathered in the street outside the church and were able to see the procession as it passed through Blackpool to the crematorium.

Linda, Denise and Maureen Nolan were among those who lined the street in the seaside resort and applauded as the cortege drove past the tower, next to the Comedy Carpet landmark,

Linda told the PA news agency the sisters had known Ball since the 1980s, when they had worked together.

She said: “We’re devastated because he’s been a great friend to us all. We just wanted to be here today.”

Bobby Ball funeral
Comedian Tommy Cannon arrives at Hope Church (Peter Byrne/PA)
Bobby Ball funeral
A memorial card for comedian Bobby Ball (Peter Byrne/PA)

Denise said he had been a support to their sister Bernie, who died in 2013 after developing breast cancer, and would take sandwiches in to the hospice where she stayed.

She said: “Tommy must be bereft.”

Maureen added: “The thing about Bobby was, he had funny bones. You couldn’t know Bobby and not like him.”

Some friends wore Ball’s trademark red braces as they paid their respects to the star, who played Lee Mack’s troublesome father Frank in the BBC One sitcom Not Going Out.

A table with a book of condolence, hand sanitiser and donation box for the Blue Skies Hospital Fund and Lowther Pavilion was set up on the pavement outside the church for fans.

Bobby Ball funeral
The funeral cortege passes the Comedy Carpet in front of the Blackpool Tower (Peter Byrne/PA)

Tony Callison, who was among those lining the streets, said he used to drink with Ball in a local cocktail bar.

He said: “You had a good laugh when he was in because you couldn’t not. He was a true gent and a funny man but he was also very helpful.

“I had a hard time last year where I needed help and Bobby was there for me as if he was a friend.

“He still had an awful lot to give, it wasn’t his time.”

Zoe Robertson, who owns apartments in which Ball stayed with his wife Yvonne when he moved to Lytham, said: “They were just the nicest people ever and since they’ve been in Lytham they’ve just become part of the community.

Bobby Ball funeral
The coffin of entertainer Bobby Ball is taken into Hope Church in Lytham (Peter Byrne/PA)

“He was one of the kindest guys. He will be so missed and it is so sad.

“He couldn’t help himself from telling jokes. In the last lockdown we used to see him sitting on his bench and he would always have a joke.”

Memorial cards left outside the service said Ball, who was born Robert Harper on January 28 1944 in Oldham, was a deeply loved husband and an adored grandfather and great-grandfather.

They read: “A much-loved friend to many and a hugely respected character within the local community.

“Things Bob loved… his family, friends, being creative, making people happy, entertaining, music and a chilled glass of Chardonnay!

“He will be truly missed by all who knew him.”

Floral wreaths reading “Bob”, “Dad” and “Grandad” were placed in the hearse with the coffin.