Sean Hughes (1965 – 2017)

❉ Actor and comedian Sean Hughes has died at the age of 51.

Born John Hughes in London on 10 November 1965, he grew up in Dublin, returning to the UK and appearing on-stage at the Comedy Store.

He had a minor role in the 1991 Irish film The Commitments, but came to prominence for most people with his Channel 4 series Sean’s Show in 1992. The premise was unusual, being set in his flat in Muswell Hill, but with no fourth wall. He would address the studio audience and the camera directly, and talk about how difficult it was to write a sitcom – the very sitcom he was filming.

Sean’s Show made light of his Morrissey fandom, with Hughes stopping everything and waving gladioli should any of The Smiths’ work come on. He also had an answering machine, left for him by burglars who were shocked at how spartan his flat was, which relayed messages from dead luminaries and God; and various visitors including a group of silent women – silent because, he told the audience, he couldn’t write for women. (They eventually rebelled and took over the writing of the episode). The show ran for two seven-part series , ending in December 1993.

From there he used his new-found fame to launch a successful tour of venues in the UK, and took the part as a team captain on BBC-2’s Never Mind the Buzzcocks from 1996 to 2002.

He was second lead to former Doctor Who Peter Davison in Meridian’s The Last Detective drama series that ran sporadically between 2003 and 2007. From there he played Pat Stanaway in Granada’s Coronation Street, a serial philanderer with seven girlfriends, one of whom was Eileen Grimshaw (Sue Clever).

After leaving Coronation Street, Hughes had a number of smaller roles, including voiceovers of CBeebies series Rubbadubbers, a policeman in one of the terrible ITV versions of Miss Marple, and an episode of BBC-1’s Casualty.

Hughes had a difficult relationship with his father, who had problems with alcohol, the experience of which he used in his The Life Becomes Noises comedy tour in 2012. He was, at the same time, battling against that same disease: alcoholism. This had caused him to have a fraught relationship with journalists, leading to a excoriating and excruciating 1999 interview with Tanya Richardson that ended up headlined “Sean Hughes Is a Sad Old Bastard”.

He published five books, none of which are currently in print and with only three not deleted.

He lost his battle with alcoholism on 16 October 2017, suffering heart failure in hospital in London. He was unmarried.

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