Goodbye to a comedy star

Mourners at the funeral of Norman Collier (bottom). Below: Comedians Roy Walker, Russ Abbot and Roy Hudd arrive for the funeral.

Mourners at the funeral of Norman Collier (bottom). Below: Comedians Roy Walker, Russ Abbot and Roy Hudd arrive for the funeral.

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FYLDE comic legends were among the stars of the stage to pay tribute to a Blackpool showbiz icon.

Much-loved funnyman Norman Collier, who gained his big break in Blackpool, died earlier this month aged 87.

Comedians Roy Walker, Russ Abbot and Roy Hudd arrive for the funeral of Norman Collier.

Comedians Roy Walker, Russ Abbot and Roy Hudd arrive for the funeral of Norman Collier.

Hundreds of people – including Bobby Ball and Roy Walker – joined Collier’s family for the service in the village of Welton, East Yorkshire yesterday.

Collier died at residential care home close to his home city of Hull after being ill with Parkinson’s disease for a number of years.

He became a major figure on the club circuit and on TV with his stuttering performances as he pretended to have a sound problem.

He was also well known for another long-running gag where he strutted and clucked like a chicken.

Norman Collier

Norman Collier

Collier had been a gunner in the Second World War and made his comedy debut in 1948 when a performer at Hull’s Perth Street Club failed to show up and he agreed to fill in.

Alongside his day job as a labourer, he honed his craft on the northern club circuit, eventually making comedy his main career by 1962.

He did seasons at Blackpool from 1963 as the warm-up act at the new ABC Theatre in Holiday Carnivals. He later did a summer season starring in North Pier’s All Laughter Showtime with Frank Carson and Little and Large.

Collier’s performances were showcased on ITV show The Wheeltappers And Shunters Social Club, hosted by Colin Crompton, which was set in a fictional smoky working men’s club and featured the top comedy stars of the day.

Bobby Ball said: “We’ve lost a comedy genius.”

Roy Hudd said: “Quite simply, he was the nicest man ever in showbusiness but also he was one of the most inventive comedians ever.”

Roy Walker said: “He was the original alternative comedian. He never told a joke in his life. Everything he did was funny.”