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Frank Carson dies

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deborah31 View Drop Down

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    Posted: 23 Feb 2012 at 07:48

Frank Carson obituary

Frank Carson, who has died aged 85, was Northern Ireland’s best known comedy export during the long, grim years of The Troubles, a standard-bearer for the province’s deep wellspring of native humour and love of the craic at a time when, on the British mainland at least, there was precious little evidence of either.

Carson became a regular on the ATV childrens’ series Tiswas — and also made television acting appearances and acted in two feature films Photo: ALAMY

7:00AM GMT 23 Feb 2012

Throughout the 1970s Carson’s Tigger-like personality — over the top and sometimes tiresomely so — hugely amused viewers of such popular television staples as The Comedians (1972-74) and The Wheeltappers and Shunters Social Club (1974-76). These recreated the quickfire gag format of the traditional northern working men’s clubs in the days before the demise of the mother-in-law joke related over bottles of stout in smoke-filled rooms.

“It’s a cracker!” and “It’s the way I tell 'em!” were Carson’s incessant leitmotifs, the fireworks he attached to his jokes as a signature of authentification, wheezes, gags and unlikely yarns that issued, apparently without end, from his gaping grin. Many were “Irish” jokes, which is to say they poked gentle fun at Carson’s own people, although modern pieties of political correctness would probably now prohibit many of them — especially those of the “thick Mick” variety — from being broadcast.

With his heavy square spectacle frames, neatly-parted hair, chubby cheeks and short, squat frame, he looked every inch the twinkling tradesman that he actually used to be before winning Hughie Green’s television talent show Opportunity Knocks no fewer than three times.

It was a feat that established Carson as television’s pre-eminent motormouth — a crown that he never subsequently relinquished. Some producers became reluctant to book Carson for live shows because he would inevitably deviate from the pre-agreed script, upstage any other comedian, interrupt any business that did not involve himself, and flood the airwaves with non-stop gags of varying vintages.

One of Spike Milligan’s favourite jokes neatly encapuslated the problem: “What’s the difference between Frank Carson and the M1?” “You can turn off the M1”.

Loose Lips, Sink Ships !!   or as they say in Jamaice, 'Mouth open, Story fly out!'
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