“It’s a cracker, it’s the way I tell ’em” They certainly were and it certainly was. Frank Carson was one of the country’s most popular stand up comedians, famed for his quick fire gags and immortal catchphrases. Having found fame on the top rated ITV show The Comedians, Frank Carson continued to make the nation laugh out loud right up until his death in February 2012.
Born Hugh Francis Carson on 6th November 1926, in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Frank’s family were of Italian descent, with his grandmother hailing from Sicily. Growing up in the “Little Italy” area of Belfast, an area which no longer exists, he attended St Patrick’s Primary School and was once a choirboy at St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic church on Donegall Street.
On leaving school Frank worked as an electrician, and later plasterer. He spent three years with the Parachute Regiment in the Middle East in the 1950’s.
Much like Les Dawson, who lived in Lytham St Anns, Frank Carson lived in Layton, Blackpool with his wife Ruth, daughter, Majella, and two sons Tony and Aidan.
A keen football supporter Frank was a regular at Blackpool F.C. football matches. He was also a director of Staffordshire football club Chasetown F.C.
An established performer Frank Carson hit the big time with his appearances on Granada TV’s The Comedians. He would continue to work right up until his death in February 2012.
A tireless charity fund raiser in 1986 he raised £130,000 for the Royal Victoria Hospital Children’s Cancer Ward. In 1987 his dedication to charity was recognised by the Roman Catholic Church when he was awarded a Papal knighthood of the Order of St. Gregory (KSG) by Pope John Paul II. In 2009 he took part in the TV show Cash in the Celebrity Attic raising over £900 for a local hospice.
In 1976 Frank Carson had heart surgery which many thought would bring about his retirement, fortunately it did not. A routine hernia operation left Carson, who had a heart pacemaker (from his 1976 heart surgery), seriously ill. However he underwent a knee replacement operation in July 2009. Subsequent x-rays, 14 days after being discharged from hospital, showed that he had a previously undetected cracked rib, which may have been the cause of the hernia.
In August 2011, Carson had an operation to remove a malignant tumour from his stomach. He continued to work and had planned to tour again in 2012. Sadly on 22nd February 2012 at his Blackpool home surrounded by his family and friends Frank passed away.
Frank Carson became a popular performer on Irish television, before moving to England to work as a stand-up club comedian. He enjoyed success on the long running television music-hall revival show, The Good Old Days, before going on to win the peak-viewing national favourite talent show Opportunity Knocks, presented by Hughie Green, three times.
However it was in 1971 when legendary Television Producer Johnnie Hamp invited Frank to join other comics from the stand up circuit on Granada Television’s The Comedians shown on ITV. The show was a ratings smash, propelling it’s stars , including Frank to prominence. Frank would go on with others including Bernard Manning, Ken Goodwin, Roy Walker and Charlie Williams to become one of the show’s most popular comics.
The success of The Comedians lead to appearances on The Wheeltappers and Shunters Social Club. Frank would be a regular fixture on our TV screens for a number of years whilst continuing as a stage performer. His other TV work included 1970’s kids show Tiswas, starring as Paddy O’Brien, described as “an Irish Republican landlord and coalman”, in The Melting Pot, a sitcom written by Spike Milligan and Neil Shand, which was cancelled by the BBC after just one episode had been broadcast. His later work included appearances on Noel’s House Party, a 2004 planned appearance on the reality show I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! was shelved by ITV executives due to prohibitive insurance costs given Carson’s age. There were two film appearances in the 1990’s and in 1998, he was the opening act for Mary Black’s musical concert at the English Village in Dubai.
In more recent years Frank appeared in 2009 Summer Season at Blackpool’s North Pier’s midweek season run of The Comedians with Mick Miller and Duncan Nordew. By this time the veteran comic was aged 82, in September of the same year he appeared at the Velvet Hall in Paphos, Cyprus.
In 2011 The Comedians celebrated 40 years and to mark the occasion at Blackpool’s Grand Theatre, Frank appeared in the 40th Anniversary Show alongside Mick Miller, Roy Walker, Jim Bowen, Dougie Brown and Stan Boardman. The show was presented by the show’s original producer Johnnie Hamp.
Working to the last Frank had been intending to tour in 2012.