Comedian and impressionist Duncan Norvelle has made an emotional plea for his fans not to forget him.
The funnyman who sprang to fame with the catchphrase “chase me” and a camp comic stage delivery is currently recovering from a massive stroke which has paralysed his left arm and leg and damaged the sight in his left eye.
Doctors have ordered him to take at least a year off work but he has vowed to beat their deadline and come back stronger than ever as soon as possible.
“The physical side has been painful and it’s been hell but you learn to cope with it,” said Duncan, who should have been appearing alongside Cannon and Ball in their Friday night season at Blackpool Grand Theatre. “It’s the emotional side I am finding it hard to come to terms with.”
While staff at Blackpool Victoria Hospital have been “wonderful” he admits that it seems like an eternity since he had the use of all his limbs.
“It’s difficult having to rely on other people to help you do the most basic of things,” he said. “My friends and family and even one of my ex wives have been marvellous but you really do learn who your real friends are when something like this hits you.”
He’s had telephone calls from the likes of Bobby Davro and Jim Davidson and visits from Johnnie Casson and Joe Pasquale when he was in town but the longer he is out of action the more he fears that people will forget him.
“A year is a long time in anything but in showbusiness it’s like forever,” he admits.
To occupy himself (“mentally I’m fine – despite a rumour going round that I’ve lost my marbles”) he is writing a book and compiling new material for when he makes his return to the stage.
“I will be back, even if I’ve got to change my catchphrase from “chase me” to “push me” – but seriousy I want to be on the top of my game when I come back so people will sit up and take notice of me.”
He says he as “lucky” that his stroke and its after-shock – brought on by a blood clot – happened when he was at home.
“There was no warning, it was a huge surprise and although it has devastated my life for the time being I was very close to it being much worse.”
He’s now working on getting the strength back in his left leg and regaining mobility in his arm – and is hoping his sight will return as quickly as it went.
“But there are people far worse off than me,” he says. “At least I’m here to talk about it.”
His convalescence has also given him time to take stock of his life.
“I’ve had five wives, seven long term relationships and been through £14 million,” he says. “Most people count sheep!”
What he’d like now is “a couple of television slots – Loose Women, something like that. Something to remind people that I’m still here. Something to raise my profile up a notch. I don’t want people to forget me – I know it sounds stupid but I’m really worried that they will.”