‘A true entertainer’: Cannon & Ball star Bobby Ball dies aged 76

Bobby Ball, one half of comedy double act Cannon & Ball, has died at the age of 76 after testing positive for COVID-19, his manager has said.

desA statement on behalf of Ball’s wife Yvonne, his family and his long-time comedy partner Tommy Cannon said he passed away at Blackpool Victoria Hospital on Wednesday evening at around 9.30pm.

Ball’s death has left his friend Tommy Cannon ‘devastated’

The statement from Ball’s manager Phil Dale said: “Bobby had been taken to the hospital for tests as he started with breathing problems. At first it was thought to be a chest infection but a test proved positive for Covid-19.”

It went on: “His wife Yvonne said the hospital and staff could not have been more wonderful, as they were outstanding in their care of duty and they did everything possible for him and she cannot praise them enough.

“She said that the family and Tommy would like to express their sincere thanks to the many, many people who have been fans of Bobby and they know that they will all share in part the great loss and total sadness that Yvonne, the family and Tommy all feel.

“Yvonne added that their need for privacy at this time has to be a priority. No further announcements or statements will be made.”

Echoing one of Ball’s famous catchphrases – “Rock on Tommy!” – Cannon, who first teamed up with Ball in the early 1960s, said: “Rock on, my good friend, I can’t believe this, I’m devastated.”

The comedy legends had been planning four-nights of festive comedy at Lytham’s Lowther Pavilion in the run up to Christmas, after their pantomime date at Crewe was postponed.

Fellow comedians including Les Dennis and Jason Manford paid tribute to Ball, with Dennis tweeting: “Just heard the sad news that the wonderful Bobby Ball has died. He was a true entertainer with real funny bones.”

Cannon (L) and Ball outside the Dominion Theatre in 1982

Manford wrote: “So heartbroken to read about the passing of comedy legend Bobby Ball. Such a hilarious man. The comedy community is a poorer place without him. #RockOn #RIPBobbyBall”.

Born Robert Harper on 28 January 1944, Ball found fame on the The Cannon & Ball Show opposite his lifelong friend and fellow comic Tommy Cannon.

Ball (L) and Cannon arriving for the 2013 British Soap Awards

He also appeared in TV series including Last Of The Summer Wine, Heartbeat, Mount Pleasant, Benidorm, The Cockfields and Not Going Out where he played Lee Mack’s deadbeat dad Frank.

Cannon & Ball also appeared on I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! in 2005.

The pair played bungling cops in The Boys In Blue in 1982

Fellow 2005 I’m A Celebrity contestant Blue singer Antony Costa, commented on social media: “Just heard the news about my friend and fellow I’m a celebrity contestant Bobby Ball… I’m devastated by the news. Thoughts go out to the Yvonne and the family R.I.P #bobbyball xx so so sad x”.

Speaking about her husband of 46-years, Yvonne said: “I will always miss him, he was so joyful, full of fun and mischievous.”

His manger, Dale, said: “Bobby was a true comedy star who loved entertaining people and he loved life itself. I spoke to him every day and it would always end in laughter.”