As Blackpool gets ready to mark the passing of one of its great entertainers, the town is being urged to put up a statue to entertainer Keith Harris.
A petition has been started to honour the former TV star ventriloquist who died, aged 67, on April 28 after a brave battle against cancer.
Lifelong fan Caroline Morris, who first saw Keith and Orville on stage when she was just three, has called on the town to acknowledge his life’s work.
She said that with a career spanning decades, Keith, who had success with his own TV shows and released a single that sold 400,000 copies reaching number four in the UK pop charts, was a great performer and a lovely man who deserved such an award.
The petition on the site www.change.org has already got almost 400 supporters.
Caroline, 33, said: “When I was three I was given a toy Orville which I loved and was taken to see Keith Harris at the theatre.
“My mum had written to him telling him how much I loved his act and he picked me out of the audience to go up on stage and have my photo taken with the real Orville.
“Keith took the photo himself with a Polaroid camera and I have always thought that it was such a lovely thing to do.
“I have always supported him and I saw him as a student, too, when he used to tour student unions. He was a great performer and a humble, down to earth man who just loved to make people smile.
“He was always proud to be connected with Blackpool and loved performing there.
“With all he achieved it would be great for the town, too, to have a statue, like the Eric Morecambe one in Morecambe which is a number one attraction on Tripadvisor.
“I have had lots of support on the petition site and on twitter, from Peter Pullen who made his puppets and from Steve Hewlett the ventriloquist. Les Dennis and Bobby Davro have retweeted it, too.”
Keith had battled cancer of the spleen since 2013 but had been given the all clear last year. He had resumed his stage career, playing a series of shows at the Sands venue in Blackpool in December but fell ill once more in January.
Keith, who lived in Poulton, leaves his wife Sarah, the mother of his two teenage children Shenton and Kitty, and grown-up daughter Skye, from his previous marriage.
His funeral will be held today at Sacred Heart Church in Talbot Road.
The noon service will be followed by a private service for family and friends.
Alan Cavill, Blackpool Council’s director of place, said: “Keith Harris was a well-loved and fantastically talented performer who entertained many people. His passing is extremely sad and our thoughts go out to his family. Naturally, any discussions around a commemoration would need to be discussed with the family first.”