Lancashire

Gary Barlow plays at Blackpool Illuminations gig

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Media captionBarlow said he used to go on holiday to Blackpool when he was a child

Thousands of people gathered in Blackpool as Gary Barlow played a gig at the Illuminations Switch-On concert.

Irish rockers The Script were due to play at Friday's event but withdrew citing a "serious family illness".

Take That's Barlow offered via Twitter to step in if organisers made a donation to Children in Need.

Blackpool Council said it was grateful the star, who switched on the lights in 1999, had "rallied round" to help.

"I went there on holiday as a kid and it is a very fond place for me," said Barlow.

He added: "When I saw the news that they had lost The Script I thought I am going to see if I can do this. When the council said they would make a donation for BBC Children In Need, I decided I'm there."

Claire Smith, the president of Stay Blackpool, said it was an "absolute nightmare" for The Script to have to pull out at such short notice.

'Wonderful offer'

She said Barlow's offer to step in was "wonderful", especially as a charity would benefit.

TV presenter Jonathan Ross is to switch on the illuminations after the 45-minute concert.

A statement from The Script's management said it was with "deepest regret" that the band had to cancel both their Leeds Academy gig on Thursday and the Illuminations Switch-On concert "due to a sudden serious family illness".

Organisers have offered full refunds on tickets but said other acts booked for the concert, such as Eliza Doolittle, would perform as planned.

They said the gig by Madness on the second day of the switch-on weekend would go ahead as scheduled.

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