British Actor-Comedian Bobby Ball Dies At Age 76 Following Coronavirus Diagnosis

British actor-comedian Bobby Ball (pictured left), one half of the comedy double act Cannon and Ball, has died at age 76.

Ball's manager Phil Dale told the BBC that Ball passed away in Blackpool Victoria hospital Wednesday evening after being diagnosed with coronavirus. "At first it was thought to be a chest infection but a test proved positive for Covid-19," Dale said in a statement. "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."

Ball's longtime professional partner Tommy Cannon has led tributes to the popular entertainer, saying: "Rock on, my good friend, I can't believe this, I'm devastated."

Ball – whose real name was Robert Harper – formed a comedy double act with Cannon (real name Thomas Derbyshire) after they met while working together in a welding factory in Oldham, near Manchester, in the '60s. As they performed across northern England's pub and club circuit, their popularity grew to such an extent that they landed their own TV series, The Cannon and Ball Show, which ran on U.K. network ITV between 1979 and 1988.

After the show was canceled due to changing tastes in comedy, Cannon and Ball continued to work in live theater and pantomime through the '90s. In more recent years, Ball established himself as an in-demand sitcom actor, making regular appearances in BBC One's Not Going Out and Sky 1's Mount Pleasant, plus guest appearances in BBC One's Last of the Summer Wine and ITV's Benidorm.

Actress Diane Morgan, who starred opposite Ball in last year's UKTV Gold sitcom 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!"

Bobby Ball, real name Robert Harper, is survived by wife Yvonne and three children. Rest in Peace, and thank you for your contribution.