"Our friendship was more like a marriage" Syd Little pays special tribute to his comedy partner and friend Eddie Large after his death at 78, with coronavirus

“Happy, happy times - it’s hard to put a finger on it but it was a marriage, we spent more time together than with our own wives.”

Thursday, 2nd April 2020, 5:58 pm
Comedian Eddie Large who has died aged 78 with comedy partner and friend of 60 years Syd Little

Syd Little, one half of the famous comedy pairing Little and Large only has fond memories of his friend of 60 years Eddie Large, who died yesterday, aged 78, with coronavirus.

The Glasgow-born comedian, whose real name was Edward Hugh McGinnis, died after contracting coronavirus in hospital while being treated for heart failure, his family revealed today.was known for his partnership with Syd Little which spanned five decades after winning Opportunity Knocks in 1971.

Speaking from his restaurant The Steamer in Fleetwood, Blackpool born Syd said he'd spoken to his 'dear friend' just yesterday.

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Eddie, a lifelong Manchester City fan who lived with his wife Patsy in Portishead, near Bristol, died alone in hospital because of a ban on visitors during the current crisis with his son Ryan saying 'his heart was sadly not strong enough to fight' coronavirus. He had a heart transplant in 2003.

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.(Thursday)

“He had been suffering with heart failure and unfortunately, whilst in hospital, contracted the coronavirus, which his heart was sadly not strong enough to fight.”

His agent Peter Mansfield confirmed his death “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.”

Syd, 77, who lives in Fleetwood, said he had spoken to Eddie on Wednesday and had last visited him in Southmead Hospital in Bristol, a few weeks ago.

“He was amazing really.

"It’s been overwhelming, he hadn’t been a well man but how we’ve both lived so long, with the near misses we’ve had over the years.

"We used up nine lives and more. We went through so much together.

“He used to say it was the stress of working with me and supporting Manchester City that had made him unwell.”

The comic duo started out together in 1961 in the northern clubs when Eddie joined Syd on stage at a pub in Wythenshawe during his musical act.

Syd added: “It was something that just happened and that’s why we worked, nothing was manufactured or forced.

“It was our audience that would go on to hone the act.

“People would ask how I kept a straight face with Eddie, I didn’t even know I was.

“It became a trademark with the bow ties, glasses he came up with that and of course the name Little and Large.”

The comedy act enjoyed huge success after winning TV talent contest Opportunity Knocks in 1971. They went on to have their own series and in 1977 had their first of several sell-out summer seasons at Blackpool North Pier and starred in The Royal Variety Show in the Queen’s jubilee year with Bob Hope and Julie Andrews.

At their peak up to 25million viewers would watch their weekly TV show.

“Those were fantastic times - I remember it all with fondness. Little and Large never split up, we were dear friends, and our families too.

"Sheree and I last went to spend a night with Eddie and Patsy in January and what a night that was.

“To touch the audiences we did over those years and inspire the people he did - he was a dear friend.”

Stars of entertainment across the UK have paid tribute to the entertainer, who had been admitted to hospital suffering with heart failure.

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"

Lenny Henry posted: Eddie Large died. Midnight Matinee Great Yarmouth 1978. They finished part one. I’d never heard laughter like it.

"Rude, raucous and rollicking.Dunno how they did it, but Eddies energy and electricity and impressions and props and improv were hugely impressive. R.I.P"

Presenting duo Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly posted: "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. X"

Eddie's agent Peter Mansfield added: ""He was at Southmead Hospital and the Papworth Hospital, which did his heart transplant 17 years ago, were in constant communication and a great help as well.

"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."