‘He was a lovely generous and funny man’ - mayor’s tribute to entertainer Roy Hudd who has died aged 83.
PUBLISHED: 10:39 17 March 2020 | UPDATED: 10:40 17 March 2020
Picture: SIMON HARRIES
Entertainer Roy Hudd – a familiar figure to Cambridge audiences – has died at 83.
The Suffolk-based comedian, actor, writer and music hall expert Roy Hudd died after a short illness.
Among his last performances was at the Cambridge Arts Theatre last October in Oscar Wilde’s A Woman of No Importance.
He toured the UK in the play about alongside Liza Goddard and Isla Blair.
Roy, who lived just outside Stowmarket, was active until very recently continuing to perform on stage and on television.
In 2018 he played Mr Tom in Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds’ production of Goodnight Mr Tom.
Hudd’s agent said: ‘We are sad to announce the passing of the much-loved and amazingly talented Roy Hudd OBE. After a short illness, Roy passed away peacefully on the afternoon of Sunday March 15, with his wife Debbie at his side.’
He asked that the family’s privacy be respected.
Ely mayor Mike Rouse said he was “very saddened to hear of the death of my old friend Roy Hudd.
“I had known Roy for some 40 years and seen him perform many times, most recently in a Woman of No Importance at the Cambridge Arts last October.”
Mike added: “Just a Verse and Chorus and Underneath the Arches remain two of my favourite theatrical experiences. He was a lovely, generous and funny man with a wealth of knowledge of music hall and entertainment.”
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Roy was the creator, writer and host of the long-running News Huddlines, Radio 2’s longest running radio show which he co-starred alongside June Whitfield from 1975 to 2001. Suffolk scriptwriter Alan Stafford, who worked with Roy on News Huddlines said: ‘My first big comedy success was becoming a commissioned writer on radio’s News Huddlines. Roy’s warm and jovial presence was a key part of that show’s success.
“He had a keen interest not only in music hall, but in comedy of all eras. And because he had that cheeky comic’s persona, when it came to topical satire he could get away with murder!
“No-one was safe - celebrities, politicians, the royal family. In the News Huddlines we saw the world through Roy’s eyes, and laughed good-naturedly at what a load of idiots we all are.
“Roy was always willing to share his love of comedy with others.
“I went and interviewed him for a couple of radio documentaries. And when I was researching that fine old variety sand-dancing act, Wilson, Keppel & Betty, he made his book and video collection freely available to me.
“And like many a comic, Roy made a fine straight actor - in particular, the Dennis Potter TV series Lipstick On Your Collar. There’s no shortage of comedians, and many of them are sensational. But there’s no-one quite like Roy. He was definitely a one-off!”
Roy also made a name for himself as Archie Shuttleworth, the undertaker, in Coronation Street between 2002 and 2010. He joked that whenever his character re-appeared in the soap, the rest of the cast would get nervous because it meant that someone’s contract was not going to be renewed.
Hudd started out as a Red Coat at Butlin’s Clacton resort on the Essex coast in 1958 working alongside Sir Cliff Richard and Dave Allen.
His early career as a stand-up comedian and a life-long love of variety led him to becoming an expert on the English Music Hall from its roots on Drury Lane through its Edwardian hey-day to its transformation into variety theatre in the 1930s and beyond.
Roy also had one of the largest private collections of music hall memorabilia including posters, photographs, and thousands of song-sheets. Hudd wrote several books on music hall and during the 1970s appeared in the popular BBC 1 show The Good Old Days.
He was the long-standing president of the British Music Hall Society, was a supporter of the Wilton’s Music Hall restoration project in London and even chose the Music Hall as his subject when he appeared on Celebrity Mastermind in 2014.
The Stage newspaper wrote: “Roy Hudd worked hard to maintain a safe place in the nation’s affections for more than half a century. He progressed from face-pulling, guitar-strumming beanpole in the 1960s to character actor, panto stalwart and tireless music hall archivist.He once said he enjoyed stretching himself, so long as the elastic didn’t break”. In 2004, Hudd was awarded an OBE and in 2007 an honorary doctorate from the UEA.