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Tributes paid to Bullseye's Jim Bowen after his death at the age of 80

Jim with the late great Frank Carson
Jim with the late great Frank Carson
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Tributes have been paid to Bullseye presenter Jim Bowen, who has died aged 80.

The TV star and comedian, who famously filmed in Blackpool for Peter Kay's Phoenix Nights, was the deputy headteacher of Caton Primary School near Lancaster before starting his career as a stand-up comic in the '60s.

As well as fronting the iconic darts programme, which aired in the '80s and '90s and obtained a cult status amongst university students, he presented a morning show on BBC Radio Lancashire between 1999 and 2003.

Best known for his 'super, smashing, great' and 'now look what you could have won' catchphrases on Bullseye, he also had roles in Last Of The Summer Wine, Jonathan Creek, and Phoenix Nights, in which he played resort hotelier Frank 'Hoss' Cartwright.

Filmed at The Lyndene Hotel, the fictional Le Ponderosa promised 'sunshine indoors' and was shown to be selling questionable non-brewery booze.

After Mr Bowen's death announced by his agent, celebrities and public figures paid their tributes on social media.

Boxing champ Frank Bruno tweeted: "Jim Bowen RIP great comic we worked together many times had a lot of laughs together. Jim & Ken Dodd sad time for the entertainment industry"

Actor Will Mellor said: "Sad news about Jim Bowen! Ya can’t beat a bit o bully!! #RIP"

And north west MEP Steven Woolfe said: "Sorry to hear of the death of lovely man Jim Bowen. Always a family must watch growing up. Rest in peace."

In 2011, Mr Bowen, also known as Alf in the Tetley Bitter adverts, said he had learned to 'appreciate all the things in life' after suffering two strokes.

Jim Bowen

Jim Bowen

Family friend John Pleus told the Press Association: "He passed away very peacefully, (Phyllis) was with him. We are all shedding a tear.

"I've known him since the Bullseye days.

"It wasn't completely unexpected, he's been ill for several weeks in hospital.

"The Royal Lancaster Infirmary were wonderful, we couldn't have asked for better.

Jim Bowen, left, is overwhelmed by the 'voices' competing for the celebrity sound-a-like disabled parking space machines at the Asda store in Blackpool in 2001. Left to right: Stuart Smith, Chris Rhodes, Bradley King, Lisa Cailes, Iain Riches, Kerry Wilson, Leslie Gibson (winner), Simon Whitehouse.

Jim Bowen, left, is overwhelmed by the 'voices' competing for the celebrity sound-a-like disabled parking space machines at the Asda store in Blackpool in 2001. Left to right: Stuart Smith, Chris Rhodes, Bradley King, Lisa Cailes, Iain Riches, Kerry Wilson, Leslie Gibson (winner), Simon Whitehouse.

Mr Pleus added: "As with people getting on, Jim has had several strokes, one in 2011.

"Strokes just make you weaker and more susceptible to infections, but we don't know what the cause of death will be."

Two years ago, radio star Sally Naden from Poulton revealed how her came to her rescue when she needed money as she recovered from cancer.

Sally, who presents for Radio Lancashire, was given £8,000 in her hour of need as she battled breast cancer.

Now fully recovered, she told The Gazette how a delay in diagnosis meant she couldn't have a reconstruction op on the NHS.

The Fylde coast panto regular ended up paying privately, and said: "I had to take a loan out but needed the money upfront.

Jim Bowen's parents on holiday in Blackpool, in an undated photograph taken by a young Jim and featured in his book Right Time, Right Place

Jim Bowen's parents on holiday in Blackpool, in an undated photograph taken by a young Jim and featured in his book Right Time, Right Place

"I was on the telephone to Jim and he said, 'The money will be in your account by this afternoon'.

"It was such a lovely thing for him to do. As soon as the money from the loan came through, I paid him back."

Sally told The Gazette this afternoon: "I loved him to bits and miss him like mad. He was just a lot of fun and he was very much as you saw him."

In the summer of 2011, Mr Bowen performed at a Comedians 40th Anniversary show at Blackpool's Grand Theatre alongside Roy Walker, Stan Boardman, Mick Miller, and Duggie Brown.

He bounced back from controversy after resigning from his radio show after referring to a guest on his show as a 'nig-nog'.

He admitted that, even though he apologised for the remark almost immediately, he believed his showbusiness days were over.

But he returned to the limelight in 2005, when he performed a solo show at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe about Bullseye, called You Can't Beat A Bit Of Bully.

Mr Bowen was survived by his wife Phyllis and two children.