Comedian Phil Butler 'died in his sleep' during P&O cruise

Phil ButlerImage source, Chris Davis Management
Image caption,
Comedian Phil Butler died in his sleep of natural causes, an inquest heard

A comedian who died in his sleep on a cruise ship had earlier complained of a "pain in his arm", an inquest heard.

Phil Butler, a regular performer at Cromer Pier in Norfolk, was working for P&O cruises when he died on 17 October.

The 51-year-old, from Clacton in Essex, was found unresponsive in his cabin while the ship was docked at Santa Maria Maior, in Lisbon, Portugal.

Coroner Michelle Brown said Mr Butler was a "relatively fit man" and concluded he died of natural causes.

An initial post-mortem examination, carried out in Portugal, was unable to determine a cause of death.

However, tests carried out in the UK revealed he died as a result of a blocked artery.

At the inquest in Chelmsford, Ms Brown said Mr Butler had "no medical history" related to the cause of death.

The hearing was told that on the third day of the cruise, the comedian had complained to a crew member of a pain in his arm.

Mr Butler was a prolific performer, magician and writer on the national comedy circuit, as well as appearing in pantomime.

He was one of the first comedians to perform for frontline troops in Afghanistan, for which he was awarded the Operational Service Medal.

Mr Butler's agent, Chris Davis, told the BBC: "Phil was a brilliant entertainer and very funny man, taken far too early, and in his prime.

"We all miss him so much. That smile will never be forgotten."

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