AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
LONDON: Northern Irish comedian Frank Carson, a stalwart of hugely popular British light entertainment shows in his 1970-80s heyday, died on Wednesday aged 85 his spokesman announced.
The likeable Ulsterman, best known for his catchphrases "It's a cracker" and "It's the way I tell 'em", passed away at his home in Blackpool, north west England, following a battle against stomach cancer.
"It is with great sadness that we have to announce the passing of Frank Carson," said the spokesman.
"Frank will be remembered for being a wonderful stand-up comedian from the golden era of light entertainment on television.
"His audience and friends alike will remember him as a genuine, kind-hearted and generous man who was also very funny because of 'the way he told 'em'."
A statement released by Carson's family on Wednesday confirmed that "husband, father, Gaga and comedian set off for his final gig today".
"He went peacefully at his home in Blackpool surrounded by his greatest fans - his extended family," added the statement seen by the BBC.
"We will be taking him home to Belfast to lay him to rest and celebrate his joyful life. It's quieter down here now. God help them up there!!"
The son of a binman, Carson was born in Belfast in 1926 and worked as a plasterer and electrician before joining the British army.
After serving for three years in the Middle East in the 1950s, Carson turned to the entertainment industry and soon became a popular fixture on Irish television.
His big break in England arrived with a famous performance on talent show Opportunity Knocks and he became a regular on other popular prime-time shows including The Comedians and Tiswas.
Carson underwent a heart operation in 1976 and was knighted into the order of St Gregory by Pope John Paul II in 1987 in recognition of his charity work in Northern Ireland.
"He kissed me and said I was a wonderful man," Carson later told the Daily Mail.
The self-depreciating entertainer returned to his stand-up roots as his television appearances became less common and continued to tour until 2008.