Joe Longthorne dies at Blackpool home

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Radio Times

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Joe Longthorne was best known for his singing and impressions

Entertainer Joe Longthorne, whose career spanned five decades, has died aged 64.

Best known as a singer and impressionist, he regularly appeared on TV shows and toured overseas.

Les Dennis tweeted he was “a supreme talent and a nice man”. Cold Feet actor John Thomson said he was a “great entertainer”.

A statement on the Hull-born performer’s website said he died in the arms of his husband Jamie.

It said: “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.”

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Joe Longthorne (second from right) in a Radio 2 special celebrating the songs of Don Black

Born to a travelling background, Longthorne started in the entertainment business at an early age after winning a local talent contest, and latterly lived in Blackpool.

He regularly appeared on the ITV series “Junior Showtime” from 1969 until the age of 16.

After working the club circuit, he received his big break on the ITV series Search For A Star in 1981.

He regularly featured on other TV programmes in the 1980s, including the Les Dennis Laughter Show and the Royal Variety Performance, and also appeared in theatre in the US and at the Sydney Opera House.

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PA Media

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Prince Charles presented Joe Longthorne with an MBE in 2012

However, at the peak of his career in 1989 he was diagnosed with the blood cancer lymphoma.

“Cancer is not a word you expect to hear when things are going so well,” he later said.

“I felt invincible and suddenly out of the blue I felt helpless. I had two choices – to give in or fight.

“I chose the latter. I got up, dusted myself off and got on with life”.

He launched a number of albums in the 1990s and continued to perform despite being diagnosed later with leukaemia.

He was beset by further health complications after a bone marrow transplant in 2005, and was given the last rites by a priest. But he recovered and continued singing at sell-out concerts.

In 2011, he was also involved in a serious road crash, suffering a broken nose and broken ribs.

A year later, he was awarded an MBE for charitable services.

His health further declined when he was diagnosed with mouth cancer, but he returned to work in time for his 60th birthday celebrations.

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Radio Times

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Joe Longthorne would regularly perform impressions with fellow entertainer Les Dennis (right)

Comedy writer Derren Litten, who created the hit show Benidorm, tweeted: “He came back so many times from such a terrible illness.

“From first sneaking into seeing him at The Ferry Boat pub in Hessle, when I was a kid, to watching him play the London Palladium many times, I’ve always been in awe of his amazing talent.”