Sheffield & South Yorkshire

Chuckle Brothers star Barry's funeral held in Rotherham

Paul Elliott carries the coffin of his brother Barry Image copyright PA
Image caption Paul Elliott, right, helped carry the coffin of his brother Barry

The funeral of Barry Chuckle, one half of the comedy duo the Chuckle Brothers, has been held in Rotherham.

The 73-year-old entertainer, whose real name was Barry Elliott, starred in ChuckleVision with his brother Paul on the BBC between 1987 and 2009.

Generations of children watched the accident-prone pair, known for their catchphrase, "To me, to you."

The service was held at Rotherham United football club, of which Barry was an honorary life president.

Barry Chuckle funeral: As it happened

The funeral cortege was greeted by applause and shouts of the brothers' catchphrase by hundreds of fans gathered outside the ground.

Barry's younger brother Paul was among those who carried the coffin in through the players' entrance.

Paul had described Barry as his "very best friend", after his death on 5 August following a short illness.

Famous faces including Roy Chubby Brown, Vicki Michelle, Linda Nolan, Bernie Clifton, Tommy Cannon and Billy Pearce were among those invited inside the stadium.

Image caption Fans applauded as the funeral cortege arrived at the stadium

Yorkshire comedian Billy Pearce said: "I think Barry would be honoured and elated to see that so many people loved him so much.

"I think that's the main thing and we will all miss him."

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Media captionThe funeral of Barry Chuckle in Rotherham

Vicki Michelle, of 'Allo 'Allo! fame, said her favourite memory of Barry was a night out in Birmingham where they were appearing in panto together, and seeing Barry "dancing in a Chuckle sandwich with a girl either side of him".

She said wherever he went people would call out, "To me, to you".

"It's going to be sad today. My heart goes out to his family, his brother Paul in particular and his children."

Image caption Vicki Michelle recalled working with Barry in pantomime

About 400 fans gathered outside the ground to pay their respects.

Lisa Scranage, 45, and her fiance Mark Kitchen, 37, got to the stadium with her 14-year-old son Ryan at 10:00 BST, having travelled from Featherstone.

Ms Scranage said she first watched ChuckleVision as a child after school and her love of Barry and Paul grew from there.

She went regularly to shows and often stayed behind to chat to the brothers, becoming friends with them.

"They have given us so much over the years as the Chuckle Brothers, so this is the last chance to give a little bit back to Barry, to say goodbye and pay our respects," she said.

The couple had asked Barry Chuckle to come to their wedding.

At the scene

Oliver Wright BBC News Online

The road up to the stadium was lined with hundreds of well wishers, keen to say goodbye to Barry.

Some had arrived as early as 10:00 to find a spot, travelling from across Yorkshire and further afield.

All the people I spoke to were delighted to share their happy memories of growing up watching him and his brother on TV or in pantomime.

The famous faces he worked with through his career all painted a picture of a man who was a joy to work with and will be dearly missed.

As the hearse approached a ripple of applause broke out among the crowd and a few shouts of "To me, to you" could be heard.

There were at least a few people who shed a tear as his coffin was carried in to the stadium for the private service.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Chuckle Brothers' catchphrase was shouted by fans as the cortege arrived
Image caption Fans gathered outside Rotherham United's stadium where the service took place

Will Cowan, 18, from Doncaster, came wearing a Chuckle Brothers T-shirt.

"I can't remember when I started watching them to be honest - [probably] since I was born," he said.

"It's been a really nice send-off for Barry. He's such a legend.

"Even now you can still enjoy their sketches. It works if you're five or 95."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Alfie travelled form Birmingham to attend the service

One young Chuckle Brothers fan travelled with his father 100 miles from Birmingham to pay his respects.

Alfie, 10, said: "I first went to see them at the pantomime in Wolverhampton around two years ago and I just became a megafan of them.

"I just love their episodes and every morning I'm watching their episodes of ChuckleVision."

Earlier this year, the brothers returned to television with a new show, Chuckle Time, on Channel 5.

Barry had been unwell towards the end of the new show's filming.

Image caption The brothers' show ran for 22 years on the BBC

Summer work was cancelled while he rested at his doctor's request, but not long after his health deteriorated.

The duo - who performed for friends and family in their garden before becoming famous - started their careers as The Chuckles on ITV talent show Opportunity Knocks in 1967.

The Chuckle Brothers

Image copyright ITV/REX/Shutterstock
Image caption The brothers on ITV talent show New Faces in the 1970s
  • From Rotherham and honorary presidents of Rotherham United FC
  • Two older brothers, Jimmy and Brian, also formed a double-act, the Patton Brothers, and have appeared on ChuckleVision
  • The Chuckles won ITV talent shows Opportunity Knocks in 1967 and New Faces in 1974
  • ChuckleVision ran for 292 episodes between 1987 and 2009
  • They received a special award at the Children's Baftas in 2008.
  • They recorded a charity single titled To Me, To You (Bruv) with Tinchy Stryder in aid of the African-Caribbean Leukaemia Trust in 2014
  • They gave evidence at Dave Lee Travis's 2014 indecent assault trial - they were performing in panto with him in 1990 when the alleged assault took place. Travis was later cleared
  • They were seen playing a magician (Paul) and his assistant (Barry in drag) on TV comedy Benidorm in March
  • They starred in a short film about Joseph Grimaldi, the 19th Century "king of clowns", titled The Funniest Man In The World, with Barry playing Grimaldi

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