Controversial comedian Bernard Manning has died at the age of 76, his son has said.

The diabetic comic died earlier today at North Manchester General Hospital, where he was being treated for a kidney problem for the last fortnight.

Earlier this month the infamously non-politically correct Manning cancelled a gig for the first time in 60 years due to ill health, but yesterday his son Bernard Junior indicated that he was showing signs of recovery.

However, comedy circuit agent Mickey Martin told the Manchester Evening News today: "I was going to visit him today but young Bernard called to say he's gone.

"It's come all of a sudden as we thought he was on the mend."

Manning's career had spanned the last six decades, originally basing his act on a song-led routine launched during his second world war national service.

But he made his name in the 1970s with ensemble TV programme The Comedians, although he continued to perform at the working men's clubs in his native Manchester.

An outspoken figure, he courted controversy for his unfashionable views on race and sexuality, refusing to change his act as comedy developed in the ensuing decades.

But he was still named as the 29th best British stand-up comedian by Channel 4 earlier this year.

18/06/2007 17:41:59