Comic Steve Royle today paid a moving tribute to the great Roy Hudd who has died just weeks before the pair were due to star together in the West End.
Lancashire-based Steve was scheduled to share the stage with one of his comedy idols at the Criterion Theatre on April 27 in a performance of "Naturally Insane! The Life of Dan Leno."
But, after hearing Roy had passed away following a short illness aged 83, LEP columnist Steve said:" This is very sad news. I was told he was ill last week, but hoped he’d pull through.
"I just feel privileged to have met the great man and had the chance to hear some of his amazing stories first hand.
"It was Roy who persuaded us to change the title of the play to “Naturally Insane” and I was so excited at the prospect of sharing a stage with him.
"Sadly that won’t happen now, but I hope we can pay some kind of tribute to him in the same way we pay tribute to his idol the great Dan Leno.
"He was so supportive and complimentary about me in the last year and for that I will be eternally grateful!
"R.I.J. (Rest in Jest) Roy Hudd."
Steve will make his West End debut in the play about legendary musical hall star Dan Leno which premiered in Lytham in 2018 and subsequently went on tour last year.
Leno was the most famous performer of the late Victorian period and the play is set in Camberwell Asylum where he spent several months towards the end of his life in 1904.
In his LEP column last month Steve told readers how thrilled he was to be appearing at The Criterion, just yards from the Pavilion Music Hall where Leno used to perform on a regular basis.
"Even more exciting for me is that acting and comic legend Roy Hudd has agreed to star alongside me as Herbert Beerbohm Tree," he wrote.
"When you read Roy's CV it's like a 'Who's Who' of comedy - and I'm sure he's thrilled to add the name Steve Royle to that list!
"In all seriousness, he came to watch the play last year and enjoyed it so much that he was more than happy to accept a role in the play when we go to London.
"He's also agreed to do a talk on Dan Leno (as he's an expert on all things music hall) after the play."