Bobby’s death – TV reports

BBC News breaking news storyBBC News

Short report on the breaking news of Bobby’s death.

Some breaking news. Bobby Ball, one half of the comedy duo Cannon and Ball has died. He was 76 and his manager has said that he had tested positive for COVID-⁠19. He’s best known of course as the partner of Tommy Cannon in that comedy duo. But more recently was seen playing the father of Lee Mack in the comedy series Not Going Out.


BBC News at 6 screenshotBBC News at 6 screenshot

BBC News at 6

Included a number of snippets from their TV show over the years, Last of the Summer Wine and Not Going Out. 

Bobby Ball, one half of the popular comedy act Cannon and Ball, has died at the age of 76. He had tested positive for COVID-19. His long-time friend and colleague Tommy Cannon said that he was devastated by the loss. 

After meeting as welders, Cannon and Ball began their career playing pubs and clubs.

Spotted by a TV producer, they ended up with their own series and appearances on countless other shows. Bobby Born was the one who fizzed with energy. Bouncing wildly off Tommy Cannon’s straight man: physical comedy. music, they were masters of them all, and at their height were two of the country’s most famous entertainers.

Today, Tommy Cannon said “I’m absolutely devastated. I’ve lost my partner, my best friend and the funniest man I know.”

Their style of comedy did eventually fall out of fashion. Ball’s talent didn’t go to waste, though, with appearances in comedies like Last of the Summer Wine and hit sitcom Not Going Out.


Good morning Britain screenshot Good morning Britain screenshot

Good Morning Britain

Included an interview with Bobby’s sons, Rob and Darren Harper.

Tributes have been flooding in for Bobby Ball, one half of the comedy double act Cannon and Ball, who sadly died aged 76.

Yes, he was famous for his bow tie braces and his catchphrase, wasn’t he? Rock on, Tommy. Bobby certainly was a true  entertainer.

Well, we’re joined now from Manchester by Bobby’s sons, Darren and Rob. Good morning to both of you this morning. Thank you so much for joining us at a time that must be very difficult for all of the family. Undoubtedly. I’d imagine you’ve been overwhelmed by the tributes that have flooded in for your dad.

Darren/Rob: Literally overwhelmed. Like I was saying to my brother, it was just dad to us. But the tributes that have been coming in is just overwhelming, really wonderful. Absolutely wonderful.

And we knew him and loved him as the entertainer and the character and just the all round bundle of energy that he was, what was he like for you boys as a father?

Darren/Rob: Just that, to be honest, he’s like a cartoon. Full of mischief. Completely full of mischief. On and off stage. It really was, wasn’t it? Yeah, absolutely. Just like like a cartoon. Just that’s what he was.

And is it right you did a gig with him just a couple of weeks ago? And I know you’d spoken to him recently, hadn’t you?

Darren/Rob: Yeah, three weeks ago we did. Our last gig was with Cannon and Ball at a place in Blackpool called Viva. And again he was up to his old tricks. We’re in a double act and we went on stage hoping to get a laugh. And then Cannon and Ball went after, got the bigger laughs and turned around towards us backstage said, that’s how you get laughs lads.

So lovely that you were able to see him and actually work with the two of them just a couple of weeks ago. But so tragic that this has struck him down so quickly. How concerned have you all been with his health? Because if he was on stage two weeks ago, it’s just sort of representative of how fast this virus can act.

Darren/Rob: Yeah, it was three weeks ago, we was with him. He’s got COPD. He got a chest infection and then went to hospital with a chest infection and got tested positive then. It’s awful. And you never expect one of your family to get it, sort of thing. And then it’s just shell shock, really completely shell shocked.

We mentioned earlier you spoke to him a couple of days ago. How was he when you last spoke to him?

Darren/Rob: Well I spoke to him, I was face timing him probably every day, three times a day when he was in hospital, before he took a decline. He was laughing and joking with the nurses, obviously, his usual self getting the nurse and said ‘have you met your new mother?’ That’s what he was doing. And then, unfortunately, he declined. Went the wrong direction, unfortunately.

We are in a really awful time at the moment with the way the virus is still ravaging the country and the government are trying to do their best. You have first hand experience of what it’s like to lose a family member and to lose one so dramatically in such a short space of time. I imagine it’s giving you all moments of pause to think about how you’re behaving, but also to remind those around you as well, just how dangerous it is.

Darren/Rob: Absolutely. If people say it’s just like flu, no it’s really not. It was awful.

Yeah. It’s really awful, isn’t it, to see what can happen. You put out your own tribute. That was really nicely phrased, actually, on social media. ‘Heartbreaking news. Our dad sadly passed away last night’. And you go on to say, ‘Sleep tight, dad, and keep them laughing’, which I just think is so lovely. And so many of the tributes have just talked about how much joy he’d brought people, how much he made people laugh. And he’s obviously passed down the comedy gene to you, too, as well.

Darren/Rob: Well, to work with them, Tommy, if Tommy’s watching, to work with them both, they’re absolute legends. And we can never fill that. My dad had sort of come to watch us perform many a time, and I said how was the gig, and he just turned around and said, you have a lot to learn, lads.

I would imagine it gave him a very wry smile and sense of satisfaction, as you say, that a couple of weeks ago when you performed with them, they got a bigger laugh than the two of you as well.

Darren/Rob: Absolutely. Absolutely. Whenever we work with them Cannon and Ball, we’d always look to the wings and he’d be in the wings watching. He’d always be watching. Lovely. But he’d want the biggest laugh. He’d always want the biggest laugh. And if he didn’t get the biggest laugh he’d end up sulking.

Listening to you talk about him, he’s everything that I would have wanted him to be, because it sounds like he was exactly the same off screen as he was on screen. 

Darren/Rob: Absolutely, he was. He was a legend… He wasn’t very good with Maths homework or anything like that.

It doesn’t matter if you can’t do the maths, just make them laugh. And Rock On, as he often said. Thank you so much Darren and Rob for joining us, we’re sending all our love and thoughts to you and all of the family at what is a difficult time, as he did bring so much love and enjoyment and laughter to all of our lives, and what will be lovely over the coming few months is to enjoy those moments again, because undoubtedly there’ll be more tributes and it’ll be nice to be reminded just how great they were. Thanks so much, good to see you. 



Granada Reports screenshot Granada Reports screenshot

Granada Reports

Extended feature on Bobby’s death – included clips from their TV shows, interviews with Tommy Cannon, Rob Harper, Sue Vincent, Sheila Ferguson and Syd Little, plus photos of Bobby with his family and clips from TV interviews with Bobby.

First tonight. Bobby Ball made so many of us so happy for so many years. But now, just at a time when we could do with his humour, he’s become another loss to coronavirus. The 76 year old, who was born in Oldham, partnered his friend Tommy Cannon in the hugely successful comedy duo Cannon and Ball. They had their own primetime shows in the 1980s featuring Bobby’s famous catchphrase Rock on, Tommy. Bobby died in Blackpool last night, having been diagnosed with COVID-19. Our entertainment correspondent Caroline Whitmore looks back on the life of a north-west comedy gem.

The local lad from Oldham who became a national treasure. For almost 60 years, Bobby Ball entertained us alongside his comedy partner Tommy Cannon. They were one of the UK’s most famous double acts, known simply as Cannon and Ball.

Tommy Cannon: Next year we’d be celebrating 58 years together and I keep thinking he’s going to be calling me any minute now. And deep down I know he’s not … I had more fun than the audience, to be honest with you.

Last night in Blackpool Victoria Hospital, Bobby Ball, aged 76, took his final bow after developing COVID-19. In his own words, only months ago, he explained how he met his comedy partner and lifelong friend Tommy Cannon.

Bobby Ball: When I look back, at me and Tommy, what we did, we were welders. Our first TV appearance was Opportunity Knocks and we came last. Bookings cancelled.

You did not?

Bobby Ball: I tell you, we were rubbish, Bernard Manning, he said “You’re the only double act with two straight men.”

Tommy Cannon: Rock On, Tommy became legendary. Bob came out on stage one night and shouted Rock On, Tommy and that was it. The whole country was saying it within days.

Bobby Ball: One of the highlights of my career was Eric Morecambe said to me “Rock on Tommy.”

Tommy Cannon: I still can’t believe that, you know, he’s up there now with, you know, people, Eddie Large, Bernard Manning, and all them greats are up there, Frank Carson, and he’ll be looking down at me now and saying “Oh come on, what’s the matter with you crying,” and I just can’t believe he’s not here.

Rob Harper: He was a character. Funny on stage, funny off stage. Most caring man, generous man really you could ever meet. You could ask of his friends that. I mean, if you wanted anything, if he had it, he’d give it you, he’d go a mile to help you, Lovely man. Lovely man. My best friend, really.

Sue Vincent: They were funny men doing funny things doing funny material, I mean funny, funny material. I only saw them last year, took one of my writing partners, he said it’s golden isn’t it, golden. Funny is funny, and always will be funny.

Sheila Walsh: He loved people. He wasn’t phony. And that’s something that I think comes across. He was, he was real.

In later life he settled in Lytham with the love of his life and soul mate Yvonne, who he married in 1974 and affectionately called her Von Von.

Bobby Ball: We’ve got good family around us, so Yvonne says. You know, come down a bit, Bob, you know, working. Yeah, yeah. Von, von, come down a bit, Bob. You’re a working comic.

Yvonne Ball: Can you get in the kitchen and make a cup of tea, please?

Bobby Ball: I’ve got to go. I think the boss has spoken.

Syd Little lost his comedy partner Eddie Large to coronavirus earlier this year.

Syd Little: It’s it’s it’s been a very sad day this morning when I heard the news that Bobby had passed away. You know, we go back 50 years, little and large, and cannonball came into showbiz more or less together doing the working men’s clubs in Manchester. You know, showbiz has lost a fantastic entertainer.

Earlier this year, Bobby made a video to help lift the spirits of the staff of Blackpool Victoria Hospital.

Kila Redfearn: We’re all heartbroken here at Blue skies and the Trust today. What a lovely, lovely man, funny, generous man with a heart of gold.

Tommy Cannon: I shall miss him but I know one thing for sure. I’m gonna see him again. I don’t know when, but I am.

We’re back after news at 10 later, but we leave you tonight with some much needed laughter and light from Bobby Ball. Sadly we’ve lost one of the great north-west funny men, but his performances will always remain. Just this once we look back and say Rock on Tommy.


News at 10 screenshot

News at Ten

Included the interview with Tommy that was shown on Granada Reports.



This Morning screenshot This Morning screenshot


This Morning

On 29th October This Morning featured a short clip of Bobby alongside the news he had passed away.

We’re starting with the sad news that comedian Bobby Ball has passed away at the age of 76 after testing positive for coronavirus. Incredibly sad news. A statement said that Bobby had been taken to hospital for tests once he started with breathing problems and at first it was thought to be a chest infection, but the test proved positive for COVID-19. 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. That’s incredible.

Tommy Cannon has said. Rock on, my good friend. I can’t believe this. I’m devastated. He was such a lovely man.

Genuinely lovely, sweet, kind man, that’s horrible.

Well, our thoughts are obviously with his friends and family at this time, sending you all lots of love.

Let’s talk to Nick and and Beverly now about that.

Nick Ferrari: About the terrible news about the death, he was, I cannot explain, I was show business reporter and I had to interview Bob, Cannon and Ball. Slightly older viewers may remember they were almost at the level of Morecambe and Wise and the Two Ronnies and I was in absolute awe. How is the interview going to go and I have to tell you all the people I interviewed I think he put me at ease the quickest. He was a genuinely warm wonderful bloke so condolence to such a great guy and really a joy to interview.

Beverly Turner: I think first of all I’d also like to pay some condolences to to Bobby Boll. He just had that face that you see and you just can’t help but smile and and that’s a really sad story.


This Morning screenshotThe following day they had an interview with Tommy. 

Yesterday you heard the sad news that Bobby had passed away at the age of 76 after testing positive for COVID-19. Let’s now go to his colleague, his lifelong friend Tommy Cannon. Tommy, our our condolences to you. Sad, sad time.

Tommy Cannon: Yeah, thank you very much. Yes, it’s, it’s it’s an awful time and just, like I say, at this moment in time I don’t know where I am. I can’t believe he’s passed away. I can’t make any sense of it yet. I really can’t. I’m miss him, I loved him to bits. We had a great career. Great memories to look back on. And I know one day I’ll meet him again, oh, rest in peace lad.

So Tommy. Obviously it was, you know, quite sudden at the the end. When did you actually know he was unwell?

Tommy Cannon: Well, to be honest. I didn’t really know. We last worked on the 9th of this month and he seemed OK. Didn’t know anything was wrong really. And then on the Saturday he was taken into hospital. and that’s where he stayed. And there were all sorts of things happening. You know, he’s stable, you know, we think he’s getting a little better and doing this and that, and I don’t know suddenly he just passed away. His lovely wife got a phone call and that was it. It was so quick and like I said now he’s at rest, God love him. Like I say he’ll be up there with all his pals, you know Eddie Large, Eric Sykes, Bernard Manning and all the greats. He’ll be up there with them and he’ll be shining like a light.

That’ll be some party, won’t it Tommy. I heard his sons talking, actually, this morning and saying that they’d performed their comedy duo with you and Bobby not that long ago. And they were talking about how their dad, Bobby, was so competitive. He always had to get a better laugh than them. Do you remember that?

Tommy Cannon: Yeah, yeah. That’s what he used to say to me, when we worked with them quite a few times, I love the boys to bits, we worked a few times and when they were getting the laughs he’d come up to them and said “hey, you’re not going to get bigger laughs than us”. I used to say “give over It’s your sons.”

Do you feel Tommy, with Bobby gone, is it as if part of you’s gone as well?

Tommy Cannon: Oh, yeah, yeah. Big, big chunk of me’s gone. I don’t know. I don’t think I’ll ever get over it. I don’t. It’s just, it’s an empty feeling. After 57 years, getting on to 58 years working together, starting in the pubs, in the working men’s clubs and then into sort of nightclubs, theatres, if you were lucky on television, if you were absolutely double lucky and you know it worked out for us, but it took 15 years before we got on to TV.

Well, may he rest in peace and thank you. Our condolences to you, Tommy. Thanks for taking the time paying tribute to your friend and and speaking to us. Thank you very much indeed.

Tommy Cannon: Yeah. Thank you. Thank you very much.

Keep well. And also our condolences obviously to Bobby’s family. His wife Yvonne and his children as well, we are sending our love to you today.


North West Today screenshotNorth West Today

Included clips from The Generation Game, Not Going Out and Last Laugh in Vegas. Also had Su Pollard paying tribute. 

The later showing, North West Tonight, included a longer segment with tributes from Bernie Clifton and Dave Spikey.

So sad news today. One of the region’s best loved comedians, Bobby Ball has died at the age of 76 after testing positive for COVID-⁠19. He was of course, one half of the duo Cannon and Ball. Tommy Cannon, his long-time friend and colleague says he’s devastated.

Cannon and Ball were stars of Saturday evening TV in the late seventies and eighties. And like all good comedians, Bobby Ball wasn’t short of a catchphrase. Rock on, Tommy.

Bobby Ball was born Robert Harper in Oldham in 1944. He met Tommy Cannon while they were working in a factory. Cannon and Ball were cabaret comics on the Northern Club circuit before shooting to fame.

Tommy Cannon has led the tributes to his co-star, saying “Rock on, my good friend. I can’t believe this. I’m devastated.”

Bobby Ball’s wife Yvonne added “I’ll always miss him. He was so joyful, full of fun and mischievous.” 

As a comic actor, Ball lit up shows such as the BBC’s Not Going Out, appearing in 18 episodes over a decade. Bobby Ball starred alongside Sue Pollard in ITV’s Last Laugh in Vegas.  “Apart from being funny, very witty, very intelligent, very much a family man. He was very proud of his boys, loved his wife, so totally, completely.”

Earlier this year and Shielding from COVID-⁠19, bobby talked to North-west Tonight about entertaining the staff at Blackpool Victoria Hospital online. 

Bobby Ball’s, manager said he was admitted to Blackpool Victoria Hospital with breathing problems. He tested positive for coronavirus and died last night.


One Show clip

The One Show

Short tribute to Bobby, with guest Stephen Fry. 

We have been flooded with messages about comedian Bobby Ball following the sad news that he has died. Stephen, you met him didn’t you?

Stephen Fry: I did have that honour. Oh, he was so funny. The way he would go for member of the audience. I’ve got my eye on you. You make me tired, you do. And he would just have a go at them, you know. And he had this twinkle in his eye that was unlike almost anybody I met. It just beamed out of him. And I was really, really sorry to hear he’d gone.

Well we’ve had this picture from Daniel Stevens, who met Bobby in Dartford in 2018. There he is with the twinkle in his eye. And Louise from Scarborough said I met Bobby and Tommy when I was about 7 years old. We we’re on a walk through the old open air theatre in Scarborough. They stopped and chatted for a few minutes and Bobby did his famous rock on catch phrase.

Emily on Facebook said my mum and I met him years ago in Southend. I ran across the road to get a picture with them. Bobby Ball saved me from getting run over. He was such a lovely man.

And my favourite memory was meeting Bobby Ball himself in the Arndale a few years ago when he was with his wife buying a new suit. I asked him for an autograph. He said yes. That’s from Sharon, from Luton. Thank you for all your comments. 


BBC Last Word title

Radio 4 Last Word

Featured on the show on Friday 6th November.

Now comedian Bobby Ball has died, aged seventy six . He enjoyed huge TV success as one half of the double act Cannon and Ball in the 1980s, when every school child knew his catchphrase.

They included the young Lee Mack. “Bobby was as pure a comic as you will ever find. He wasn’t funny and political or funny and profound, he was just pure funny. Everything about him was was funny boned.”

Bobby Ball was born Robert Harper in Oldham. His mom worked in a cotton mill and his dad in a rubber factory. The family lived in a one bedroom house and Bobby slept top to toe with his two sisters on the landing. He made his show business debut as a child on the BBC radio program Workers Playtime as his son’s Rob and Darren Harper recall.

Rob/Darren Harper: My dad got up about five or six singing with his sister Mavis, and that’s how they started. They carried on, and they always loved it , and they carried on singing, and then Mavis wanted to go into comedy a bit. And then he left school, was a welder, met Tommy, and then Tommy joined.

And they started out as singers. didn’t they?

Rob/Darren Harper: Yes, singers, who used the name Harper Brothers, and then the comedy took over gradually, and they changed it to Cannon and Ball.

And how did they get the big break into television?

Rob/Darren Harper: He started on opportunity knocks, and they used to have a clapometer on that, do you remember the clapometer, and they did that bad the clapometer didn’t move, they came completely last. but I think after that someone picked them up and they just gradually, they was doing the working mens clubs for years upon years upon years, and they started getting popular within that area and then they moved into the nightclubs, and then from there they got into television. What they’d do, they’d open with a song and it was sketch based, and then they’d have a guest artist on.

Other guest: They used to always have one massive star. I mean we even had Guy Mitchell on, somebody says ‘Guy Mitchell’ and Tommy says ‘Oh, I like him.’ Well, mind you, Guy Mitchell is Tommy’s age.

And there was a magic force about them, the common man just just took to them.

Darren, how did he get on with Tommy off screen, because sometimes these double lights can be a bit tense, can’t they?

Rob/Darren Harper: They really fell out. So they had a couple of years where they didn’t speak at all. They didn’t even look at each other on stage, they’d work together, but wouldn’t look at each other. But now they were the best of friends, they made up and were the best of friends ever since. I think I heard Tommy say after fifty years of being together, two years not speaking, it’s not bad.

After The Cannon and Ball Show came to an end, Bobby appeared in Last of the Summer Wine and I’m a Celebrity Get me out of Here, then Lee Mack, who had been a fan since his school days, cast Bobby to play his dad in the sitcom Not Going Out.

Lee Mack: I actually got on the school roof and basically did an impression of Bobby to try and entertain my mates, and that became my little thing doing an impression of Bobby Ball, so years later, obviously, I decided the obvious person to cast as my dad would be Bobby Ball.

Lee Mack: The first thing that Bobby ever did for us, he was turning up dressed as Father Christmas, and you could only see his eyes. and I did wonder how long it’s gonna take before people recognized him as Bobby Ball, and I opened the door and underneath the beard, he gave a big smile, which you couldn’t really see, but his little Bobby Ball eyes immediately turned into the Bobby Ball that you remember from Cannnon and Ball and the whole audience cheered, instantly. It was like that real moment of instant recognition of a man that they knew.

Lee Mack: If you look at what he’s done in the show, he’s not a very pleasant character at all. I mean, he’s lied, he’s cheated, he’s borrowed money and never paid it back, there’s all sorts of attributes about him that aren’t particularly likeable. Like all sitcoms you can’t just have someone that people dislike, and we wanted someone to play it that was the most likable person we could imagine doing the most unlikeable things, and we sat down and we just came up with the idea that Bobby is probably the most likable person that you can picture in your head.

Rob/Darren Harper: He turned up in a Rolls Royce and I was so embarrassed. Dad, why’ve you picked me up in this Rolls Royce. I was like a cartoon, what you saw on that stage was what our Dad was. You know if you was out and about and somebody asked him to get up on stage, he said absolutely, jump up on stage, he’d spend an hour with people, he loved it.