IF actor and comedian Paul Shane hadn’t slipped on the soap as he showered after a shift at Rotherham’s Silverwood Colliery, he may never have risen to prominence as holiday camp comedian Ted Bovis in 80s sitcom Hi-de-Hi.
Shane died aged 72 on Thursday in a hospice in the home town which he loved. But that chance accident in 1967, which left him with back problems, meant he could no longer work underground at the age of just 27, and he had to cast around for a new career.
At first he tried his hand at South Yorkshire’s then booming cabaret circuit, playing in Rotherham’s pubs and clubs as both a singer and a stand-up comedian, experience which would serve as excellent training for his most famous television role.
His live act led to bit parts in television series, including Coronation Street, and when Hi-de-Hi writers David Croft and Jimmy Perry were looking for someone to play Bovis, Paul Shane was apparently the man they wanted from the start.
When Perry and Shane appeared on the popular daytime quiz show Eggheads on BBC2 in 2010, Perry told how he had first met Shane and immediately cast him in the role that would make him famous throughout the 80s.
The relationship would continue even after the last Maplin’s holidaymakers departed our screens in 1988, with Shane and fellow Hi-de-Hi cast members Jeffrey Holland and Su Pollard joining him in class comedy You Rang M’Lord and the railway based Oh! Doctor Beeching.
Yesterday Pollard, who played holiday camp cleaner Peggy Ollerenshaw, paid tribute to Shane, saying that his experiences as a comedian on the Yorkshire club circuit had provided a “grain of truth” both in his performances in Hi-de-Hi and in later roles.
Pollard recalled the “great fun we had every single day” while on set, but also added that Shane was actually a quiet character, saying he would “never be one to push himself forward”.
She added that as soon as he “became Ted Bovis, he came into his own. There were very definitely two sides to him but both equally lovely”.
Stars of the modern comedy circuit including Ricky Gervais also paid tribute to Shane and his work, with the star of The Office and Extras describing him as a “Britcom hero”.
Hollywood star Mike Myers, who is most famous for his James Bond spoofs starring comedy secret agent Austin Powers, also described Shane as a “great British comic, actor and talent” on social networking site Twitter.
Shane’s agent Linda Kremer said that although his career had taken him away from his home town for long stretches, he was a “true Yorkshireman at heart” and often spoke to her of how he always wanted to return to Rotherham when work was finished.
Shane’s wife Dory died in 2001, but he is survived by three daughters and six grandchildren.