Comedian Frank Carson, best known for the oft-repeated catchphrases It's the way I tell 'em and It's a cracker as well as his irreverent style of humour, has died aged 85.

The Belfast-born performer spent several years serving with the British army in the Middle East before showbusiness.

He started out in Irish television before moving to England, where he won television talent show Opportunity Knocks several times, helping to launch his career.

During the 1970s he starred alongside the likes of Bernard Manning and Jim Bowen in The Comedians television series, and was a familiar face on air throughout the following two decades.

A family statement quoted by the BBC said the husband, father, Gaga and comedian set off for his final gig today.

It's quieter down here now. God help them up there!!

Despite battling a long illness, he was performing until December, and one of his final performances was before British Queen Elizabeth's husband the Duke of Edinburgh.

Carson was an active charity campaigner, and was recognised by the Roman Catholic Church when he was awarded a Papal Knighthood of the Order of St Gregory by Pope John Paul II.

He is survived by his wife Ruth, a daughter and two sons.

(Reporting by Mike Collett-White, editing by Paul Casciato)