A tweet from the Rochdale Hornets RLFC said: “Rochdale Hornets is today saddened to learn of the passing of former director and comedy legend Bobby Ball. The thoughts of everyone at the club are with Bobby’s loved ones.”
Actress Diane Morgan, who starred alongside Ball in The Cockfields, tweeted: “So sad to hear about Bobby Ball. He was such a treat to work with. Never stopped making us all laugh. We’ll miss you, Bobby!”.
This Morning hosts Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby both paid tribute to Ball on their show. Schofield said: “He was such a lovely man. A genuinely lovely, sweet, kind man.”
Willoughby said: “Such a lovely man… and our thoughts are obviously with his friends and family at this time. Sending you all lots of love.”
Shane Richie paid an emotional tribute, saying Ball had been a hero who became a friend. He wrote in a tweet: “35yrs ago my HERO became my friend. You always knew when Bobby was in the room, he could make you laugh & cry with just a look. The biggest heart & warmest smile that filled stages everywhere. I loved you bobby ball and I always will. Truly truly one of a kind .sleep well cocker!”.
Singer Robbie Williams tweeted: “God bless you Bobby Ball. Thank you for the memories and the laughter. RIP”.
I’m A Celebrity presenter Declan Donnelly said Ball had been one of his “absolute favourite performers growing up”.
Comedian Russ Abbot said: “How sad, I first met Canon and Ball when they were the Harper Brothers on the same bill in the working men’s clubs and I knew then they would make it big and boy did they become one of the funniest acts in the business, with Bobby’s unique and hilarious style. He also was a fine actor. My thoughts are with his family and Tommy. RIP Bobby”.
Lee Mack said he is “utterly shocked and devastated to lose my mate Bobby like this”.
In a statement, Mack, who starred with Ball in BBC comedy Not Going Out, said: “I’m utterly shocked and devastated to lose my mate Bobby like this.
“I filmed with him just a few weeks ago and he was his usual funny and cheeky self. My thoughts are with Yvonne and his family, and of course Tommy.
“To get to work with one of my childhood comedy heroes was great. But to call him a friend was even better. Rest In Peace Bobby x”.
From cabaret king to national treasure: Ball’s rise to fame
Ball rose from the cabaret circuit of northern England to become a household name. As part of Cannon & Ball, he delighted the nation with slapstick and wordplay.
He was born at Boundary Park General Hospital in Oldham, Greater Manchester, to Bob and May Harper. He attended High Crompton Secondary in Oldham and later went to work in a factory as a welder, where he met his long-standing partner in showbusiness, Thomas Derbyshire.
The pair adopted the stage names Bobby Ball and Tommy Cannon and started out as comics on the cabaret circuit.
Ball became known for twanging his braces on stage and declaring: “Rock on, Tommy!”
Their careers took off in earnest after their first big show in 1979. Primetime Saturday night series The Cannon & Ball Show ran until 1988 and was one of the London Weekend Television network’s most successful entertainment programmes.