ONE half of legendary comedy duo Little and Large has passed away after contracting coronavirus — and the family of Eddie Large have spoken of their sadness at not being able to visit his bedside in the days before his death.
The comedy giant, whose partnership with Syd Little was watched by millions in the duo’s heyday, died in hospital aged 78 after being infected with what his family described as ‘this horrible disease’ while being treated for heart failure.
Comedy stars Sir Lenny Henry, Paul Chuckle, Ant and Dec and Matt Lucas were among the first to pay tribute.
His son Ryan McGinnis posted on Facebook: ‘It is with great sadness that mum and I need to announce that my dad… passed away in the early hours of this morning.
‘He has been suffering with heart failure and unfortunately, whilst in hospital, contracted coronavirus, which his heart was sadly not strong enough to fight.
‘Dad fought bravely for so long. Due to this horrible disease we had been unable to visit him at the hospital but all of the family and close friends spoke to him every day.
‘We will miss him terribly and we are so proud of everything he has achieved in his career with Syd and know that he was much loved by the millions that watched them every week.’
Large’s agent Peter Mansfield said: ‘His family were very sad not to be able to be in the same room as him, touching him, in the last week because of coronavirus.
‘They were only able to speak on the phone, which was obviously very sad for them.
‘But they wanted to say thank you to the NHS, which was fantastic throughout.’
Speaking about the life-saving heart transplant and treatment the comedian underwent many years ago, Mr Mansfield said: ‘The family wanted to say how grateful they are for the extra 17 years that they have had with Eddie. And a huge thank you to the donor and the donor’s family.’
Large, who was born in Glasgow but grew up in Manchester, formed his double act with Little in 1963.
The pair went on to win Opportunity Knocks and appeared regularly on TV for the next 20 years.
Their prime-time BBC One series The Little And Large Show attracted audiences of almost 15million before it was axed in 1991.
In 2010, Large, who was famous for interrupting his co-star, revealed he had not spoken to Little for some time.
‘I haven’t seen Syd for years. He lives up near Blackpool and I live near Bristol, so I haven’t spoken to him for a long time,’ he told TV Times.
Ant and Dec were among a host of stars paying tribute to Large on Twitter, writing: ‘So sad to hear about the passing of Eddie Large.
‘We had the pleasure of working with him and Syd a few years ago. He just loved making people laugh. He will be missed. Our thoughts are with his family at this time.’
Chuckle wrote: ‘RIP the very talented Eddie Large. Such a funny and lovely man. Love goes out to his family at this time.’
Matt Lucas wrote: ‘Eddie Large (along with his supersonic friend Syd) was really lovely and kind and encouraging to me when I was a nipper on Shooting Stars. So sad to hear of his passing.’
Recalling a Little and Large show he saw in Great Yarmouth in 1978, Sir Lenny Henry wrote: ‘I’d never heard laughter like it. Rude, raucous and rollicking. Dunno how they did it, but Eddie’s energy and electricity and impressions and props and improv were hugely impressive. R.I.P.’
Comedian Jason Manford tweeted: ‘So sorry to hear about Eddie Large passing away.
‘Came to every comedy and musical show I did whenever I hit Bristol and was always around for a chat about comedy and Man City afterwards.
‘Such a gentle, funny man. RIP Eddie.’
Frank Bruno tweeted: ‘RIP Eddie Large of Little & Large we spent loads of quality time together including pantomimes and TV appearances.
‘Funny funny man & great to work with.’
Dancing On Ice star Linda Lusardi, who is herself recovering from coronavirus, wrote: ‘We are devistated [sic] at the news that our wonder friend Eddie Large has died from the virus.
‘Our love and best wishes go to his beautiful wife Patsy and his family.’
Film director Edgar Wright described his chance encounter with Eddie Little in the eighties as his ‘best’ celebrity sighting.
Sharing the anecdote on Twitter, Wright wrote: ‘In the 80s my family were on the M5, overtaking a car with a massive Little & Large decal on the back. I was bemused a sticker even existed, then floored to see Eddie Large himself driving (with Syd in shotgun). I waved furiously. My 1st celebrity sighting & still the best. RIP.’
Tommy Cannon, one half of the comedy duo Cannon and Ball, wrote on Twitter: ‘Devastated to hear that my good friend Eddie Large has passed… very heavy hearts at home today. Mine and Hazels hearts go out to Patsy and the family.’
TV presenter Timmy Mallett wrote: ‘Dear Eddie Large — thank you for the laughter and joy. Deepest condolences to all your family and friends.’
League Of Gentleman creator Reece Shearsmith shared a clip of Large’s Gotcha segment from Noel’s House Party and wrote: ‘RIP Eddie Large. Here is Eddie’s *brilliant* Gotcha inflicted by Noel Edmonds and featuring @RebeccaFront (bettered only by the Lionel Blair one).’