North East comedian Brendan Healy loses cancer battle

Brendan Healy, who has lost his battle with cancer.
Brendan Healy, who has lost his battle with cancer.

Tributes are pouring in for North East comedian and entertainer Brendan Healy, who has died at the age of 59, after a long battle with cancer.

A musician, actor, theatre writer, producer and comedian, he died late last night, surrounded by his family.

A statement released on his Facebook page this morning said: "Last night, Brendan passed away peacefully at 11.50pm after a five-year battle with cancer. His strength, dignity and humour throughout his illness is an inspiration to all his friends and family. A much-loved husband, father, brother, son, uncle and friend to many, he will be sorely missed."

His last performance in Alnwick was at the Hog's Head Inn just before Christmas.

Keith Liddell, CEO of The Inn Collection Group, which owns the Hog's Head, said: “The North East has lost a true legend in Brendan Healy. He was a brilliant actor, musician and comedian - someone who simply made other people’s lives fun. We were privileged that he performed at The Hog’s Head Inn, Lindisfarne Inn and Bamburgh Castle Inn on numerous occasions - always by popular demand. He will be greatly missed. Our thoughts and deepest condolences are with his family.”

Reporter Michael Pearson spoke to Brendan before the December gig and said: "Brendan was equally as funny on the telephone than he was in person and on the stage. Although some may say his jokes were old-fashioned, that was the charm of his work. I think he wanted to be an all-round funny man and entertain people of all ages and that was the true beauty of his work.

"Comedians like Brendan really are rare these days and I'm sure he'd admit that. A lot of famous comedians tend to win a lot of laughs with crude jokes but if you had the pleasure of watching him live, you ended up laughing the night away and genuinely appreciated that his jokes were clean and hilarious at the same time and I think he'll always be remembered for that around the North East.

"He was a top-notch Geordie and he'll be missed by those, not just from Newcastle, but the wider North East."

Several messages have been posted on the Gazette's Facebook page, including this one from Linda Taylor: 'Very sad to read this. I know of him best through Sunday for Sammy. My thoughts are with his family and friends. Rest in peace Brendan x'

Fiona Patterson dimply wrote: 'RIP so sad.'

Born in Newcastle, Brendan started out as a musician, playing keyboards in groups around the region, including legendary Tyneside folk-rock band Lindisfarne. He moved into theatre and then television, where he presented 1970s children's television show Razzmatazz.

Returning to theatre, he spent many years either in rep, or touring alongside such stars as Penelope Keith, Toyah Willcox, Bill Maynard and Russ Abbot, in everything from Shakespeare to comedy. He played Bernard in the West End production of Strippers, Tol Briston in the Emmy-award-winning Black Velvet Gown, and also appeared in The Girl and Dinner of Herbs - two films based on Catherine Cookson novels.

On TV, he was Eric in Spender, and also had parts in popular series such as Boon, Auf Weidersehen Pet, Crocodile Shoes, Coronation Street and Badger. He has spent the last 10 years as a comedian, where he was in huge demand on the after-dinner circuit. Brendan released a solo DVD, Tall Stories, in 2005, recorded at The Customs House in South Shields, and performed at all the Sunday For Sammy concerts, established to support new North East talent.

He produced the annual pantomime at the Tyne Theatre in Newcastle, also writing and performing in the show, and has written a musical with Brian Johnson from rock band AC/DC.