Comedian and impressionist Phil Cool has announced he is to retire after more than 30 years in the limelight.
The announcement comes after a traumatic year for the Lancastrian star, who narrowly escaped serious injury during his last tour when he was involved in a motorway car crash.
But the rubber faced impressionist insists he is hitting the road for one last tour before bidding farewell to the business.
The 64-year-old, who will end his last nationwide tour in June next year, now says he wants to focus on a career as a songwriter.
Chorley-born Phil said: “My decision isn’t because of the car crash but it is because of the traffic, I do my own driving and I hate the traffic when I’m on tour. I love doing the gigs but it’s so tiring, Ronnie Barker once said the same thing to me.
“I always said I would retire when I turn 65 in April and get lots of fishing in, but I will probably still do gigs within a half hour radius if the opportunity arises.”
Phil, who lives in Chipping, near Preston, says he will spend his retirement finishing his current book about his career and focusing on his sideline profession as a singer-songwriter – skills which have attracted the attention of folk band Fairport Convention and led to him performing to 10,000 music fans at the Cropredy folk festival in 2009.
Phil, whose son Joe is also a musician, adds: “Of course being a singer songwriter you find you can’t stop just like that.
“I started writing songs at 16. I have two guitars and occasionally I will get up in my local in Chipping. You don’t want to stop writing.
“It’s quite different performing songs to performing a comedy sketch, because most of them are serious songs.”
Phil, who is best known for pulling funny faces, discovered that he had the ability to distort his face when he was a teenager.
Once he left school he worked as an electrician before turning professional as a comedian and impressionist.
In 1984, he landed a gig on the first two series’ of Spitting Image. He later had his own shows on BBC and ITV.
He suffered a heart attack in 2000, only returning to the stage in 2002, and in 2003 revived his touring partnership with friend Jasper Carrott.