Manx residents honour Sir Norman Wisdom

Media caption,
Hundreds of people lined the streets in Douglas

Hundreds of people have lined the streets of Douglas to say farewell to comedian Sir Norman Wisdom.

The cortege was accompanied by unbroken applause as it headed towards St George's Church along Douglas Promenade.

The much-loved comic passed away on 4 October, aged 95.

Sir Norman's coffin was brought via Douglas promenade to St George's Church off Westmoreland Road in the heart of the city on a horse-drawn hearse.

More than 600 people, including family, friends and celebrities, packed into St George's Church.

People joined the procession as it went through the streets of Douglas and others waited to see it arrive at the church.

A group of former servicemen formed a guard of honour as the carriage made its way alongside St George's Church.

Cap on coffin

A flat cap and a bouquet of flowers rested on top of the coffin as the pall-bearers carried it through the doors.

Image caption,
Nicholas Wisdom paid tribute to his father's love and enthusiasm for life

Comedian Bradley Walsh and actor Todd Carty were among the congregation, as was Michael Grade, the former chairman of the BBC.

Sir Norman's son Nicholas Wisdom paid tribute to his father during the service.

He said: "He was a very caring and loving father, always greeting us with a big kiss right to the end."

Remembering one of his catchphrases, he said: "Perhaps for his family and his many friends and fans around the world, they are the true 'Lucky Little Devils' because they shared his love and enthusiasm for life, which made him the unique person he was.

"So it's farewell to our great friend, but in so many ways, he will live on in our memories."

The London-born comedian, best known for his hapless onscreen character Norman Pitkin in the 1960s, has lived on the island for the past three decades.

The service was led by the vicar of St George's Church, Brian Smith, who is also Archdeacon of the Isle of Man.

Moira Anderson, the Scottish singer, performed two pieces, Who Can I Turn To and Absent, and Sir Norman's eldest grandson, Lawrence Wisdom, read a poem written by the comedian called Gratitude.

Movie tribute

Sir Norman's family joined celebrities in "Sir Norman's Bar" in the Sefton Hotel to raise a glass to the slapstick genius, after the service.

Films including 1965 classic Early Bird were played on television screens to remind the guests of his comic prowess.

Outside the bar entrance a bronze statue of Sir Norman sits cross-legged on a bench with his flat cap perched on his head.

Floral tributes were left alongside. One read: "You made us laugh, you made us cry, today we come to say goodbye. God bless you. Rest in peace."

A book of remembrance will be left at the bar for people to sign and leave messages.

Sir Norman will be buried on Saturday in a private family service.

Free ice cream

Hundreds of residents said they wanted to pay their tributes to the star.

Image caption,
Sir Norman Wisdom died on 4 October at Abbotswood nursing home

One of them was local ice cream maker, George Davison, who said: "He opened the parlour for us when we refurbished the place and we gave him a letter of consent to come and have ice-cream when he wanted, free of charge."

Another couple who said they remembered him fondly were his friends, Enid and Malcolm Watson.

"We had a petrol station at the time and he used to go out on the forecourt and start serving the customers.

"We would dash out and say, 'Norman, you can't be doing that,' and the customers would often do a double take and say, 'you look like Norman Wisdom'.

"To which he would reply, 'do I?'."

Local chef and good friend of the comic, Kevin Woodford, added: "He was riding along on his scooter from the north to the south of the island and he would see a little old lady waiting to cross the road so he would stop to have a chat.

"I can't think of anyone on the island that hasn't been touched by the presence of Sir Norman Wisdom."

Sir Norman was known worldwide. He was particularly beloved in Albania where he was so revered that he was given the freedom of the country's capital, Tirana.

Media caption,
Hundreds of people lined the streets in Douglas

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