Entertainer Joe Longthorne has died at the age of 64.
The “nation’s beloved entertainer” died peacefully in the arms of his husband Jamie at his home in Blackpool in the early hours of Saturday, according to a message on his official website.
It reads: “It is with the deepest sadness that we have to announce that the nation’s beloved entertainer Joe Longthorne MBE passed away peacefully in the early hours of today at his cherished home in Blackpool.
“Joe died in his bedroom, laying in the arms of his devoted husband of 21 years Jamie, with his rosary beads clutched tight to his chest.
“He leaves behind sister Ann and brother John. Our deepest sympathies and condolences go out to Jamie and all the family at this sad time.”
Tributes have been paid from fellow entertainers including Les Dennis who tweeted: “So very sad to hear that Joe Longthorne has died. Worked with him many times. A supreme talent and a nice man. Thoughts with his family. RIP”
Comedy writer Derren Litten, who created the hit show Benidorm, said he had “always been in awe of his amazing talent”.
Cold Feet actor John Thomson and comedian Paul Chuckle both described him as a “great entertainer”.
Comedian Tommy Cannon said: “So sad to hear the passing of Joe Longthorne, such a talent with a fabulous voice! You will be missed, Rest in peace.”
The singer, impressionist and charity fundraiser described the MBE he was awarded in 2012 as “an unexpected honour”.
He was given the award for charity work that has seen him raise money for organisations including the Variety Club of Great Britain, Cancer Research UK and DCWC (Development of Children and Women Centre) Nepal.
In a career which spanned decades, Longthorne had performed to millions of people around the world and also sung at the Royal Variety Show several times.
He found fame on LWT programme Search For A Star in 1981 and went on to present his own television programme, The Joe Longthorne Show.
After being diagnosed with leukaemia, he received a bone marrow transplant in 2006.
Labour MP Angela Rayner added: “So sorry to hear of the death of singer and entertainer Joe Longthorne MBE, he was much loved by the many fans who adored him R.I.P. Joe”
Russ Abbot also paid tribute to Longthorne, saying: “I first met Joe in 1974 when he was playing summer season in Jersey.
“I was completely blown away and just had to approach him to congratulate him on his extraordinary talent.
“I knew then that he was going to go far. He was one of the best entertainers in his field and a very brave man. RIP Joe”.