Frank Carson

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Frank Carson
Frank Carson copyright BarryCheung.jpg
Carson in 2007
Birth nameHugh Francis Carson
Born(1926-11-06)6 November 1926
Belfast, Northern Ireland
Died22 February 2012(2012-02-22) (aged 85)
Blackpool, Lancashire, England
Notable works and rolesThe Comedians

Hugh Francis Carson KSG (6 November 1926[1]  – 22 February 2012[1]) was a Northern Irish comedian and actor from Belfast. He was best known for being a regular face on television for many years from the 1970s onwards, appearing in series such as The Comedians and Tiswas. His trademark line was "It's the way I tell them!" Carson was a member of the entertainment charity the Grand Order of Water Rats.[2]

Early life[edit]

Carson was one of six children born to a working-class Catholic family from the inner-city Belfast locality known as the Half Bap (now called Cathedral Quarter). He attended St Patrick's Elementary School. The family later moved to 94 Corporation St[3] in the Little Italy area, close to Sailortown. Carson worked as an electrician and later a plasterer in the building trade.[4] Carson's family were of Italian descent,[5] with his grandmother hailing from Sicily.[citation needed]. In his early days Carson was a choirboy at St Patrick's Catholic church on Donegall Street.[6]

Carson spent three years in the British Army's Parachute Regiment, mainly in the Middle East in the late 1940s. During his service he shot dead an armed Zionist terrorist.[7] He himself was shot in the leg and on another occasion narrowly escaped death when a bomb went off outside a cinema. The seven RAF men he was with were all killed.[7] He also assisted with the clear up after the King David Hotel bombing in Jerusalem and made 40 parachute descents.[8][9]

Television career[edit]

Carson became a popular performer on Irish television, before moving to England to work as a stand-up club comedian. He had success on the long-running television music-hall revival show, The Good Old Days. He then went on to win the peak-viewing national favourite talent show Opportunity Knocks, presented by Hughie Green, three times. He was one of the more prominent acts on The Comedians alongside the likes of Charlie Williams, Bernard Manning, Mike Reid and Jim Bowen. The show consisted of 30 minutes of non-stop stand-up comedy from several comedians in each show, became a ratings hit in Britain and helped establish Carson's career.

Granada Television's The Comedians led to similar shows, such as The Wheeltappers and Shunters Social Club, which was an attempt to bring the northern English working man's club show to television. Carson was a regular on television for a number of years after The Comedians, whilst also working as a stage entertainer and appearing before the Royal Family in shows.

In 1975, Carson took the part of Paddy O'Brien, described as "an Irish Republican landlord and coalman", in The Melting Pot, a sitcom written by Spike Milligan and Neil Shand, which was cancelled by the BBC after just one episode had been broadcast.[10]

He was the subject of This Is Your Life in 1985 when he was surprised by Eamonn Andrews at Heathrow Airport after the two had flown over together from Dublin.[11]

When he had heart surgery in 1976 it was suggested this meant he would retire. However, he continued working and became a regular on the ATV children's series Tiswas. He began making acting appearances on television as well as in two cinema films in the 1990s. In 1998, he was the opening act for Mary Black's musical concert at the English Village in Dubai.[citation needed]

Later life and death[edit]

Carson was still working, making live appearances, in cabaret, pantomime and the summer season throughout the UK. He spent much of his time helping the needy which included raising £130,000 for the Royal Victoria Hospital Children's Cancer Ward in 1986.[citation needed]

A theft from Carson's dressing room in Blackpool in 1995 caused ill feeling between entertainers Jim Davidson and Linda Nolan and this was revived in 2014 during an episode of Celebrity Big Brother.[12]

On 2 September 2009, aged 82, Carson returned to the stage appearing at the North Pier Theatre midweek season run of The Comedians in Blackpool, where he lived.[13] On 30 October 2009, he appeared at the Velvet Hall in Paphos, Cyprus.[14]

A routine hernia operation left Carson, who had a heart pacemaker, seriously ill and he underwent a knee replacement operation in July 2009.[13] Subsequent x-rays, 14 days after being discharged from hospital, showed that he had a previously undetected cracked rib, which may have been the cause of the hernia. In August 2011, Carson had an operation to remove a malignant tumour from his stomach.[citation needed]

Carson died on 22 February 2012, aged 85, at his Blackpool home. He was survived by his wife, Ruth, whom he married on 21 January 1950 and who died in 2015, aged 87, his daughter Majella and his sons Tony and Aidan, in addition to numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.[15] His funeral was held on 3 March 2012 at St Patrick's Church, Donegall Street, Belfast, where he had married his wife Ruth over 60 years earlier. Mourners included Stan Boardman, Dennis Taylor, Eamonn Holmes, Martin McGuinness, Lenny Henry, Dana, Roy Walker and a large crowd of fans.[16]

Personal life[edit]

Carson was a Roman Catholic.[7] In 1987 his dedication to charity was recognised by the Catholic Church when he was awarded a papal knighthood of the Order of St. Gregory by Pope John Paul II.[17]

Although he stayed out of Northern Irish politics, he openly supported UKIP in later years.[18]

He lived in Layton, Blackpool,[19] where he attended Blackpool F.C. matches at Bloomfield Road.[20] He was a director of Staffordshire football club Chasetown F.C.[21] and in the 1970s and 1980s he was appointed a Director and Vice-President of Newport County football club in South Wales to raise the profile of the club.[22]

In 2009 Carson took part in the TV show Cash in the Celebrity Attic to raise money for a local hospice, raising over £900 in the process.

Carson lived for many years in Balbriggan in the north of County Dublin, and served two terms as mayor of the town.[23]


  1. ^ a b "Comic Frank Carson dies aged 85". BBC News. BBC. 23 February 2012. Retrieved 9 August 2018.
  2. ^ "Frank Carson Obituary". The Telegraph. 23 February 2012. Archived from the original on 14 April 2012. Retrieved 20 July 2016.
  3. ^ "1939 BSD c complete 3".
  4. ^ Barker, Dennis (23 February 2012). "Frank Carson obituary". The Guardian. London.
  5. ^ Nikkhah, Roya (3 March 2012). "Comedian Frank Carson laid to rest in Belfast". The Daily Telegraph. London.
  6. ^ "Immigration and Emigration in Northern Ireland". Retrieved 12 March 2008.
  7. ^ a b c Barker, Dennis (23 February 2012). "Frank Carson obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 August 2018.
  8. ^ "Frank Carson IMDb profile". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 14 March 2009.
  9. ^ "Frank Carson obituary". The Times. 24 February 2012. p. 60.
  10. ^ Milligan, Spike; Shand, Neil (1983). The Melting Pot. London: Robson Books. introductory pages. ISBN 0-86051-195-2.
  11. ^ "Frank Carson | This Is Your Life | 1985 Intro" – via
  12. ^ McNally, Kelby (17 January 2014). "Linda Nolan in tears after row with Jim Davidson over 'Frank Carson's dressing room' | Showbiz". Daily Express. Retrieved 4 May 2014.
  13. ^ a b "Frank ready to make 'em laugh". Blackpool Gazette. 2 September 2009. Retrieved 1 November 2009.
  14. ^ "Paphos People: The Big Night Out with Frank Carson". Retrieved 10 November 2009.
  15. ^ "Comic Frank Carson dies aged 85". BBC News. 22 February 2012. Retrieved 22 February 2012.
  16. ^ Funeral Procession For Comedian Frank Carson Sky News
  17. ^ Borislav Todorov for Eligo International. "Association of Papal Orders in Great Britain". Archived from the original on 6 February 2012. Retrieved 22 February 2012.
  18. ^ "Comedian Frank Carson backs UKIP". BBC News. 15 May 2009. Retrieved 9 August 2018.
  19. ^ Robinson, Joe (23 October 2009). "Stars hail Variety line-up". Blackpool Gazette. Retrieved 1 November 2009.
  20. ^ "It's A Cracker!". Up the Pool. Blackpool F.C. 2009–10 season (Blackpool vs Derby County). 18 August 2009.
  21. ^ Cheese, Caroline (5 January 2008). "Live – FA Cup fifth round". Retrieved 14 March 2009.
  22. ^ "Frank Carson laugh 'lifted club'". BBC News. BBC. 23 February 2012. Retrieved 9 August 2018.
  23. ^ Balbriggan Will Miss Frank Carson Archived 14 July 2012 at Monday, 27 February 2012 15:20.

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