Tributes have been paid to veteran comedian and TV presenter Jim Bowen.

The former Accrington Grammar School for Boys pupil, best known for hosting Bullseye, died on March 14 with his wife Phyllis by his side following several weeks in hospital. He was 80.

He had suffered three strokes in recent years.

Bowen was adopted as a baby and brought up in Clayton-le-Moors by his brickworker father, Joe Whittaker and his mother, Annie Whittaker, a weaver.

Colin Manford, comedian and landlord at the Black Dog in Oswaldtwistle, said Bowen’s death was ‘heartbreaking’ for the comedy community.

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He said: “It’s always sad when you see a legend go - and he really was. For me, his memorable work was Bullseye. It was ground-breaking and his presenting style, especially his sarcasm, paved the way for many who followed him.

“He really was such a nice guy.”

Darts-based gameshow Bullseye, aired for 14 years from 1981 until 1995.

It obtained cult status among university students, and saw Bowen spout his popular catchphrases “super, smashing, great” and “now look what you could have won...”.

Bowen’s birth name was Peter Williams, but his adopted family changed his name to James Whittaker.

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He attended Accrington Grammar School for Boys and was known as ‘Whick’.

Bob Dobson, from the Old Accringtonians Association, remembered Bowen, latterly of Melling, from school days. He said: “He was at school two years ahead of me and it was a pleasure. I followed his career with some interest and I know he’s had lasting connections with a few lads from school.

“There has been a great deal of affection for him - he was a naturally funny man.”

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Bowen was voted the nation’s favourite TV quiz show host in an online poll in 2016, beating Alexander Armstrong, Stephen Fry and Richard Osman. He enjoyed cameo roles in shows such as Last of The Summer Wine, as well as roles in Jonathan Creek and in Peter Kay’s Phoenix Nights.

The former comedian was previously a deputy headmaster.

The announcement of Bowen’s passing followed just three days after the death of another comedy giant, Sir Ken Dodd, who famously opened the Accrington Arndale Centre back in 1987 and was a regular visitor to East Lancashire.

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