Fond farwell to a prime time star

Derek Batey who hosted Mr and Mrs and (below) the star reading The Gazette.

Derek Batey who hosted Mr and Mrs and (below) the star reading The Gazette.

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TRIBUTES were today paid to “one of the nicest men in showbusiness”.

Former TV presenter Derek Batey died on Sunday aged 84, and colleagues today expressed their sadness at his death.

Derek Batey reading The Gazette in 1987.

Derek Batey reading The Gazette in 1987.

Mr Batey, who lived in St Annes and is best known as the host of quiz show Mr and Mrs between 1964 and 1980, died in Trinity Hospice, after falling ill during a recent family holiday in the USA.

Comedian and ventriloquist Keith Harris, who lives in Poulton, said: “He had a chat show, and it was quite interesting because I didn’t realise he used to be a ventriloquist too.

“He got me on his show and had a chat with Orville, and then he brought out all his dummies too.

“He was a lovely man and he used to come in and do Mr and Mrs on a Sunday while I was at the Grand Theatre.

“He was one of the nicest men in showbusiness.

“He was a kind man and one of the gentlemen of the industry, there’s not many of them left now.

“It’s a shame, a lot of people I’ve known seem to be passing on.”

Bobby Ball, one half of legendary comedy duo Cannon and Ball, offered his tribute.

Mr Ball, who lives in St Annes, said: “I knew him and met up with him a few times.

“He was a lovely man and a very gentle man, it’s shocked me.

“What you saw was what you got with Derek.

“I had a flat in Gran Canaria and so did he, so we used to meet up in the bar when we were over there.”

Mr Batey was born in Brampton, near Carlisle, and once set a record of working on all three of Blackpool’s piers during the same summer season.

He is survived by his wife of 62 years, Edith, and daughter Diane.

A statement from his daughter said: “It’s a difficult time for us and we’re dealing with each minute as it comes.

“We’d like to extend our grateful thanks to Trinity Hospice in their care for dad.”

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