Bernard Manning famous for his racist and homophobic jokes has died at the age of 76.
Manning was rushed to hospital with a kidney problem two weeks ago. A spokesman for North Manchester General Hospital said: “He died here at 3.10pm today.”
His official website calls Manning “one of the most outrageous and successful comedians of our time.”
He frequently denied that his jokes were racist but never defended himself over homophobia accusations. He once joked on gays: “I’m no racist. I take the piss out of poofs, too.”
In his self-penned obituary to be published in the Daily Mail, Manning wrote: “I can see the other obituaries already: ‘Bernard Manning, racist bigot’, the smug types will say when they hear of my departure.
“But that’s not what the great British public, especially in Lancashire and the rest of the North, will say. They knew that I was a funny bloke. That’s why they kept flocking back to my own cabaret club, even when I was barred from the airwaves.
“And I was never a racist. That’s just an easy, catch-all term of abuse bandied around by the media elite against anyone who does not follow their agenda. It was just meaningless.”
After working in comedy clubs and northern Working Men’s Clubs in the 1950s and 1960s, Manning made his television debut in the 1970s on Granada TV’s stand-up comedy show The Comedians. He went on to compère The Wheeltappers and Shunters Social Club.
The dawn of political correctness led to television companies reducing their bookings of Manning, but his appearances on the Northern Working Mens club circuit continued, playing to packed audiences which, as he claimed, often included people from ethnic minorities.
Frank Carson, who worked with Manning on The Comedians, defended his brand of humour saying: “The only people that misunderstood him were those people who didn’t have a sense of humour.
“We had a great laugh together. That sense of humour overpowered everyone. He put bums on seats. Everyone loved Bernard. At the end he was still a very funny man.”
Showbiz agent Mickey Martin, a close friend of Manning told Sky News: “He made people laugh at one another.
“You couldn’t take that seriously. If you can’t laugh at one another, what’s it coming to? He put Manchester on the map. He was the best comedian that this country has ever produced.”