TOUCHING tributes have been paid to a Leigh man and talented actor who has died after a long illness.

Brian Darvell died peacefully on December 19, at the age of 80.

He had lived in Leigh since he was four and joined the Southend Operatic and Dramatic Society in 1968, singing and dancing on stage for nearly 40 years, performing many shows at the Cliffs Pavilion.

Although he was not a professional actor, Brian appeared on television several times in supporting roles on the Bill, and he popped up in EastEnders, quietly supping a pint in the Queen Vic.

He and identical twin brother Ivor were inseparable, starring alongside each other in shows and travelling the world together.

Brian even tried to sign up for the Army when Ivor was conscripted.

Sister Joan said: “We were so close.

"It’s strange to hear of a family staying in the same town and doing all the same things together, but we loved it.

“The twins were inseparable. Brian was blind in his left eye and failed the Army medical test, but he tried any way he could to get in and follow Ivor.”

The twins appeared on television together in a BBC Horizon programme examining the link between identical twins.

Ivor said: “I finished the task before him and sat back, but when Brian was done he threw his hands up and shouted ‘voila!’. That was Brian, always a showman.”

In his later years Brian cared for his mother, Hilda, and took over the running of the family business, Leigh’s A1 Dining Rooms, until she passed away, aged 104, in 2007.

Joan added: “He was her sole carer and companion in her final years. I remember him once telling me he thought she would never die.”

Brian never married. He leaves behind siblings Joan, 81, Ivor 80 and Roland, 84. His funeral will be held at Southend Crematorium on Monday, January 13, at noon.

Flower donations are welcome, sent to Hospice at Home, c/o W Thorp, 62 Broadway, Leigh, SS9 1AE.