Best known for his appearances on television series such as The Comedians and Tiswas. Comedian and Actor Frank Carson KSG was born on 6th November 1926 in Belfast, Northern Ireland, where he attended St Patrick’s Primary School where as a tubby, fair-haired schoolboy of five nicknamed Snowball, he tried to make people laugh as a way of showing that he was not a nobody.
After leaving school at 14 he first worked as an apprentice electrician, and later as a plasterer in the building trade, he wasn’t particularly good at either but escaped the sack because he made the other workers laugh, which made them work better. He was also once a choirboy at St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic church on Donegall Street, and in the 1950’s Carson spent three years with the Parachute Regiment in the Middle East.
After being demobbed He began performing at pubs and clubs in the evenings, standing in front of the venue, handing out leaflets and selling tickets and then surprising ticket-buyers once inside by being the man who was doing the comedy routine. He even managed to find comedy in his National Service with the First Parachute Battalion, which he joined when he was 18, training on the Isle of Wight and Manchester Ringway Airport and serving in Palestine.
Carson moved towards stardom when, after being demobbed, he made dozens of appearances on Irish television and Soon became a popular performer before moving to England in 1966 and appearimg on the BBC Show The Good Old Days music hall show and appearing as a Stand-Up Comedian on Hughie Green’s Opportunity Knocks television which he won three times. His Belfast accent and bawdy confidence were immediately distinctive. He also did summer seasons at Pontins and Butlins holiday camps, a TV series with the Irish group The Bachelors.
He hit his stride in “The Comedians”, which consisted of 30 minutes of non-stop stand-up comedy from several comedians in each show. The program became a ratings hit in the United Kingdom and helped establish Carson’s performing career, and also gave a platform to all sorts of funny men and women such as Charlie Williams, Bernard Manning, Mike Reid and Jim Bowen. The Comedians also led to similar shows, such as The Wheeltappers and Shunters Social Club, which were all an attempt to bring the northern English working man’s club show to television, Peter Kay also did a similar thing with Phoenix Nights. Carson was a regular on television for a number of years after The Comedians, whilst also working as a stage entertainer and appearing before the Royal Family in shows. He is known for two catchphrases in live performances: “It’s a cracker!” and “It’s the way I tell ’em!”.
In 1975, Carson took the part of 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. When he had heart surgery in 1976 it was suggested this meant he would retire. However, he continued working and became a regular on the ATV children’s series Tiswas. He began making acting appearances on television as well as in two cinema films in the 1990s. In 1998, he was the opening act for Mary Black’s musical concert at the English Village in Dubai. In 2004, a planned appearance on the reality show I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! was shelved by ITV executives.
Up until quite recently Carson was still working, making live appearances, in cabaret, pantomime and the summer season throughout the UK, and On 2 September 2009, aged 82, Carson returned to the stage appearing at the North Pier Theatre midweek season run of The Comedians in Blackpool, where he had a home. On 30 October 2009, he appeared at the Velvet Hall in Paphos, Cyprus.
Carson also spent much of his time helping the needy which included raising £130,000 for the Royal Victoria Hospital Children’s Cancer Ward in 1986. 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 by Pope John Paul II. He was a member of the entertainment charity the Grand Order of Water Rats.
Carson died on 22 February 2012, aged 85, at his Blackpool home. He is outlived by his wife, Ruth, daughter Majella, and sons Tony and Aidan. Upon hearing the news, Trevor Carson, a nephew, and a football goalkeeper with Premier League side Sunderland, stated “After a lengthy and wearisome illness, my uncle, friend, and hero has passed on to join the great comedy legends of our generation.” Another nephew, Sean, is a comedy writer.