Updated: 23/02/12 : 08:49:27
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Tributes Paid To Comedy 'Legend' Frank Carson

Tributes have been paid to comedian Frank Carson, best known for his catchphrase "It's a cracker", who has died aged of 85 after losing a battle with stomach cancer.

The Belfast-born stand up passed away surrounded by his family at his home in Blackpool, Lancashire.

In a statement they said he was a "husband, father, Gaga and comedian" who had "set off for his final gig".

They added: "He went peacefully at his home in Blackpool surrounded by his greatest fans - his extended family.

"It's quieter down here now. God help them up there!!"

His funeral will be held in Belfast, where he was born to a family of Italian descent.

Carson rose to fame in the 1960s after winning talent show Opportunity Knocks three times. He went on to appear in The Comedians and Tiswas.

His friend and Sky News presenter Eamonn Holmes said: "The term legend is often overused - but Frank Carson was a legend and we will never ever see his likes again.

"He was just a complete bundle of energy and at 85 he was still going and still cracking jokes."

Former chat show host Sir Michael Parkinson said Carson was a "good man" and "great company"

"He represented that front-of-cloth comedy, it's a different genre from the kind of comedy that we have today, where younger and smarter comedians play big halls - he was a club comic.

"He was a good man - you're always smiling with people like Frank around."

Sir Bruce Forsyth said: "The only trouble with Frank, as far as I'm concerned, is that he made me laugh too much.

"He'll be remembered as the one and only Frank Carson - the man who loved to make people laugh."

Carson dedicated much of his life to looking after his wife Ruth, who had serious eyesight problems, with his sons Tony and Aidan and daughter Majella, despite his own poor health.

His agent, Ashley Yeates, said: "His audience and friends alike will remember him as a genuine, kind-hearted and generous man who was also very funny because of 'the way he told 'em'.

"We will remember him as one of the nicest people in showbiz, a gentleman and a friend."

Carson continued to perform his stand-up show until December last year. One of his final performances was for the Duke of Edinburgh.

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Here are some of his best-known jokes:

:: My father fought in World War I single-handedly destroyed the Germans' lines of communication. He ate their pigeon.

:: A fella walks into a pet shop and says: "Give me a wasp." The shopkeeper replies: "We donft sell wasps." He says: "Therefs one in the window."

:: Someone threw a petrol bomb at Alex Higgins once. He drank it.

:: A man goes into Boots and says: "Have you got Viagra?" "Do you have a prescription?" asks the chemist. "No," he replies, "But Ifve got a photograph of the wife..."

:: A fella walked into hospital and the doctor said: "Youfve got three minutes to live." The man said: "Can you do something for me?" "Yes," he said. "Ifll boil you an egg."

:: I don't think my wife likes me very much. When I had a heart attack she wrote for an ambulance.

:: A fella said to the doctor: "Whatfs the good news?" "Youfve got 24 hours to live." He says: "Whatfs the bad news?" And the doc says: "We should have told you yesterday."

:: I rang British Telecom. I said, "I want to report a nuisance caller." He said: "Not you again."

:: My wife said to me: "If you won the lottery, would you still love me?" I said: "Of course I would. Ifd miss you, but Ifd still love you."