Norman Wisdom: Leicester Comedy Festival remembers original patron

Sir Norman Wisdom Sir Norman, who was knighted in 2000, was renowned for a string of comic roles

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A comedy festival has opened in Leicester on what would have been the 100th birthday of its original patron, Norman Wisdom.

The Leicester Comedy Festival started in 1994 with 40 shows, and featured comedians including Matt Lucas, Harry Hill and John Shuttleworth.

The 2015 event features hundreds of acts playing venues across the city.

The festival is also marking the career of Norman Wisdom with an exhibition at De Montfort Hall.

The London-born star, who died in 2010, was known for his slapstick film roles in the 1950s and 1960s, famously playing Norman Pitkin against frustrated boss Mr Grimsdale.

Sir Norman, who was knighted in 2000, was described by Charlie Chaplin as his favourite clown.

'Perfectionist' performer

His son Nick is curating the exhibition in tribute to his father.

He said: "I didn't see much of him in the early days I realised when I put this exhibition together.

"He was working so hard, he was doing a film in the day at Pinewood and then doing two shows in the West End in the evening."

He described his father as a "perfectionist" and wanted to make sure he got the exhibition right.

He said he knew he was patron of the comedy festival and said it seemed like the right place for it.

Norman Wisdom made one of his last ever public performances at the festival in 2002.

Norman Wisdom Norman Wisdom was known for his funny walk and trademark caps and suits
Norman Wisdom with chimps at London Zoo The exhibition features many photos from Norman Wisdom's career

De Montfort Hall's displays include his trademark suits and caps, and handwritten scripts dating back to the 1940s.

Festival director Geoff Rowe said: "People can come in and basically chart his career - it's a story really, it brings back a lot of memories for people. It's a real trip down memory lane."

He said his favourite memory was when Norman Wisdom received his knighthood from the Queen.

"He did a slight fall as he was walking away. I can't think of many people who could get away with that in front of the Queen," he said.

The 2015 festival, which features acts such as Jimmy Carr, Tina T'urner Tea Lady and Jeff, Oli & the Homosexual Elephant in the Room, runs from 4 to 22 February.

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