Northern Ireland

Belfast's book of condolence for Frank Carson

Belfast City Council has opened a book of condolence in memory of Frank Carson.

The Belfast-born comic died on Wednesday after battling poor health for some time. He was 85.

Friends, family and the world of show business have been paying tribute to him.

Famous for his sayings "it's a cracker" and "it's the way I tell 'em", Carson came to prominence in the 1960s after winning Opportunity Knocks.

He leaves a wife, Ruth, daughter Majella and sons Tony and Aidan, as well as 10 grandchildren.

Tony told BBC Radio Ulster that he was a father first and a celebrity second.

"He was a pain in the butt, in the nicest way," he said.

"He was non-stop."

"Dad was kind and generous, he had great affection for us all, especially his grandchildren as he got older and had more time on his hands.

"He had such a positive outlook on life, on everything. There was definitely a child within that wanted to have fun and give fun.

"Laughter is the best exercise for the heart and he got plenty of exercise for his."

The Carson family plan to bring Frank back to Belfast for burial on Saturday 3 March.

The first and deputy first ministers, Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness said the comedian would be remembered with "special fondness".

"A bit of colour has dropped out of everyone's life following the death of Frank Carson, but his laughter will echo around his native Belfast, and farther afield, for years to come," they said.

"He was a warm, funny and generous-hearted man who dispensed sunshine to everyone he met and was a great ambassador for his homeland."

The former bishop of Londonderry, Edward Daly, booked the comedian to perform to sell out crowds at St Columb's Hall in the city nearly a 100 times in the 1960s.

He said he spoke to him by telephone last Sunday.

"Frank was a good man - he certainly made my life a whole lot more enjoyable," he said.

"He helped me and I think I helped him too."

Tributes

As the news of his death broke on Wednesday night many stars took to the social networking site Twitter to share their memories.

Simon Pegg, actor

Thanks very much and goodnight to Frank Carson. It was the way he told them. Funny man.

Ant McPartlin, presenter and one half of Ant and Dec

Sad news about Frank Carson. Had the pleasure of working with him and he was a real gent. Very funny man. Thoughts are with his family.

Declan Donnelly, the other half of Ant and Dec

We were lucky enough to work with Frank Carson, I've never laughed as hard as I did in rehearsals with him. Legend.

Lenny Henry, comedian and actor

Fella went into B&Q. He says: 'I want some nails.' The guy said: 'How long d'you want em?'. Fella said: 'I wanna keep em.' R.I.P

Rufus Hound, comedian

Saw Frank give out an award at industry do 18 months ago. Everyone 'too cool' to be there. All presenters ignored - Frank got an ovation.

Danny Baker, presenter

Backstage, the mighty Carson would hand you signed pics of himself from his jacket pockets several times a night whether you'd asked or not.

Rebecca Front, actress

I met Frank Carson once for about 10 minutes and he made me laugh for all 10. Genuinely funny man.

Ian Wright, footballer

Sad news about Frank Carson. Rest in peace. A very funny man.

Lionel Blair, entertainer

Extremely upset to hear the news that Frank Carson has passed away. My thoughts are with his family. I will deeply miss him.

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