Bobby Ball, Half of a Hit British Comedy Duo, Dies at 76
This obituary is a part of a collection about individuals who have died within the coronavirus pandemic. Examine others right here.
Bobby Ball had a glance that match his slapstick humor. He was a barely stocky 5-foot-3, with a head of darkish, bushy hair, a equally spectacular mustache, a gaptoothed grin and a behavior of snapping his purple suspenders. His signature line, addressed to his comedy companion, Tommy Cannon, was “Rock on, Tommy!” The 2 had been amongst Britain’s largest tv stars within the Eighties.
Mr. Ball died on Oct. 28 at a hospital in London. He was 76. His supervisor, Phil Duke, who confirmed the demise, stated Mr. Ball had been admitted to the hospital due to respiratory issues and examined constructive for Covid-19.
“Cannon & Ball,” which ran from 1979 to 1988, drew as many as 20 million viewers on a Saturday night time. The present alternated between goofy comedy bits — about issues like unpredictably reclining airline seats, obsessive-compulsive bartenders and a “West Aspect Story” gang encounter involving a really outdated man — and earnest musical numbers.
Between skits, Mr. Ball and Mr. Cannon would placed on tuxedos and sincerely sing well-known songs, typically romantic ballads, like “Ship Within the Clowns” or “To All of the Women I’ve Cherished Earlier than.”
Towards the tip of the present’s run, Mr. Ball, sad about his dangerous habits (consuming, womanizing and a propensity towards violence, the press stated), turned to faith. He wrote “Christianity for Novices” and started instructing vicars the best way to incorporate humor into their sermons.
Robert Harper was born on Jan. 28, 1944, in Oldham, England, a producing city close to Manchester. Though he confirmed some curiosity in present enterprise in his youth, he took a conventional job after highschool: welder at a neighborhood manufacturing facility.
However in his spare time, he sang at cabarets round northern England. When a brand new welder, Thomas Derbyshire, joined the corporate, the 2 turned mates. Quickly they had been a singing duo, calling themselves Bobby and Stevie Rhythm, then the Sherrell Brothers, then the Harper Brothers. Later they modified their surnames and have become Cannon and Ball.
The duo as soon as stated that they determined to increase their act to incorporate jokes as a result of comics had been being paid three kilos per hour (greater than $6 again then) greater than singers.
After their collection ended, the 2 returned to tv as shopping center safety guards on the sitcom “Plaza Patrol” (1991), however the present lasted solely six episodes. Mr. Ball continued to behave, totally on tv, evolving into grandfather and father-in-law roles.
He was a daily on “Mount Nice” (2011-17), a household comedy, and did three episodes of “Final of the Summer time Wine” (1973-2010), the long-running BBC collection about retired males in Yorkshire.
Mr. Ball’s final display screen appearances — each in 2019 — had been in “The Cockfields,” a mini-series a few household birthday celebration on the Isle of Wight, and “Not Going Out,” a collection on which he had a recurring function because the feckless father of the star (Lee Mack).
He and Mr. Cannon additionally continued to work collectively onstage. They performed Las Vegas as just lately as 2018.
Mr. Ball and Joan Lynn married in 1964 and divorced in 1970. His survivors embody his second spouse, Yvonne Nugent, whom he married in 1974; two sons, Robert Harper Jr. and Darren Harper, now a comedy group, from his first marriage; and a daughter, Joanne Ball. In keeping with The Oldham Occasions, his hometown newspaper, there have been additionally 10 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
He didn’t plan to retire. “If no promoters booked me, I’d be on the market busking,” Mr. Ball instructed The Mirror in 2015, referring to British sidewalk performers who sing or dance for spare change.
Entertaining individuals had been an honor, he stated, including, “That’s all I would like written on my headstone — ‘He gave us amusing.’”
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