West End star Darren Day is set to step in to help out showbiz pal Joe Longthorne with his shows while the veteran entertainer undergoes cancer treatment.
Singing star Joe has been diagnosed with throat cancer and is due to undergo an operation next Wednesday.
He is booked in to play at Blackpool’s Viva night spot every Sunday throughout the summer plus a 74-date tour of UK theatres.
Now his showbiz friend Darren has offered to star in the Viva shows until Joe is fit to sing once more.
While he admits they are big shoes to fill, Darren has said it will be an “honour” to perform for Joe.
He said: “Hearing the news Joe was ill again was horrible but when I got the call about doing his shows, I was just honoured.
“It’s great to be able to do something like this for someone who is my idol and to do it in Blackpool, I have such fond memories of performing here.
Agent Eric Hall said: “Joe is to have his operation to remove the throat cancer on July 2 and can’t wait to be back signing for his fans, but we will have to see how it goes.
“In the meantime Darren has kindly agreed to step in to help Joe out.
“Darren is a great performer, a real star and he can do the same things as Joe; singing, dancing, impressions.
“Darren phoned shortly after the news about Joe’s cancer to offer his best wishes and Joe’s manager had the idea of seeing if he was free to stand in if need be.
“We spoke to his manager and Darren was delighted to help.”
Joe, 59, battled back from leukaemia in 2006.
He had a bone marrow transplant after first being diagnosed in the late 1980s, but was stunned to be told he had throat cancer in May.
Now he faces a gruelling 10 hour operation at Royal Preston Hospital.
Joe is then set to stay in hospital for between 10 days and two weeks before returning to recover and recuperate at his Blackpool home.
He said: “I’m in the expert hands of my consultant and his staff.
“Who else could have covered for me but Darren?
“He’s a true professional and a nice lad. I’ll be in to see him whenever I can.”
The weekly shows start at Viva Cabaret and Show Bar, on Church Street in Blackpool, on July 27, continuing every Sunday.
Joe hopes to return to the stage a few weeks later to ease back into shows, providing he is in good health.