Lancashire

Joe Longthorne funeral: Blackpool 'won't be the same'

Joe Longthorne Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Entertainer Joe Longthorne died earlier this month

"Blackpool will never be the same without Joe Longthorne," comedian Roy 'Chubby' Brown has said at the entertainer's funeral.

The 64-year-old singer and impressionist was being remembered following his death on 3 August.

"You might as well remove that tower," the comedian also told mourners at the Sacred Heart Church in Longthorne's adopted home of Blackpool.

Hundreds of fans clapped the funeral cortege as it went through the resort.

The funeral procession began at his Layton home at 11:00 BST.

It passed venues he starred at - the Music Hall Tavern, Winter Gardens, Grand Theatre and Viva, then along the promenade to take in North Pier, where the star set a record with a 19-week show - before arriving at Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church in Talbot Road.

Hundreds of mourners were waiting at the church to clap him into a full requiem mass.

A special procession also took place on Monday in Hull, where he grew up.

Image caption Hundreds of mourners were waiting outside Sacred Heart Church
Image caption People clapped the funeral cortege as it went through the streets of his adopted home
Image caption Cars full of flowers proceeded the cortege

Other stars at the service included actor Ricky Tomlinson and comedian Bobby Ball.

"He was lovely," Tomlinson said.

The Royle Family star said that as a compere, he worked a lot with Longthorne.

"He was this little frail character in the dressing room until I announced him and the lights went on then he came on stage and he was this giant... he was amazing.

"He loved his fans. He wasn't Joe Longthorne the superstar - he was Joe Longthorne, man of the people, and that for me meant a lot."

Ball said: "He made millions of people happy. He was a wonderful entertainer and we were very lucky to have him."

As well as Roy 'Chubby' Brown, comedian Roy Walker, who presented ITV's Catchphrase, made a heartfelt tribute to Longthorne at the service.

Tributes were also read out from Barbara Windsor, Engelbert Humperdinck and Don Black who all remembered his sense of fun and laughter.

Longthorne wanted a "simple service with straightforward hymns" that the public could attend, said Canon Bob Dewhurst at Sacred Heart.

He said the star did not want it "being turned into a circus" and he wanted people "to pray for repose of his soul".

Image caption A wake is taking place at Viva showbar where Longthorne performed

A burial will then take place in Layton Cemetery and people are invited to a wake afterwards at Viva "to remember Joe in a suitable style which he himself would have approved of", according to his official website.

Mourners have been signing a book of condolence at the Viva showbar.

Longthorne was a regular on the ITV series Junior Showtime from 1969 until the age of 16.

After working the club circuit, his big break was on the ITV series Search For A Star in 1981.

Image copyright Radio Times
Image caption Joe Longthorne would regularly perform impressions with fellow entertainer Les Dennis (right)

He then starred in TV programmes including the Les Dennis Laughter Show and the Royal Variety Performance.

He was appointed MBE in 2012 for his services to charity.

The singer and impressionist died in "the arms of his devoted husband of 21 years Jamie, with his rosary beads clutched tight to his chest", the performer's website said.

Longthorne was diagnosed with the blood cancer lymphoma at the peak of his career in 1989.

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Prince Charles appointed Longthorne MBE in 2012

However, he continued to perform and launched albums in the 1990s despite being diagnosed with leukaemia.

He had further health complications after a bone marrow transplant in 2005, and was involved in a serious road crash in 2011, suffering a broken nose and broken ribs.

His health further deteriorated when he was diagnosed with mouth cancer, but he returned to work in time for his 60th birthday celebrations.

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