Lee Mack has outlined his plans to pay tribute to late star Bobby Ball in the next series of Not Going Out.
Legendary comedian Ball – who played Lee's father Frank in the sitcom – passed away in October 2020 at the age of 76 after being diagnosed with coronavirus.
And Mack says he plans to open the new series with a funeral for the character, adding that he hopes to invite several of Ball's contemporaries to star in the episode – including his former comedy partner Tommy Cannon.
"I’m thinking of starting the next series with a funeral," he told Paul Kerensa, in an interview for a medical fundraiser. "And Tommy — I’m thinking of having him as the priest, and also bring some comics of that generation.
"Bring in all his mates, as in my dad’s mates, who I’ve never met. That will be the story. I want to see a scene which opens up with Sid Little, Freddie Parrot-Face Davies, and the like, all just sitting round. It would be marvellous.”
Ball made his first appearance in Not Going Out in 2009 and starred in the sitcom for more than a decade.
Before his death, he had already filmed his scenes for the 2020 festive special and for series 11, which began airing in early January. His character's on-screen funeral would be expected to air when the show returns for series 12.
Ball joined the cast of Not Going Out in the third series back in 2009 and went on to play Lee's father Frank in a total of 20 episodes –most recently in the eleventh season, which is currently airing on BBC One.
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In addition to appearing on a number of sitcoms, Ball was most well-known for his double act with Cannon, with the pair appearing in several projects together after first meeting in the '60.
They landed their own hugely popular variety show in 1979, The Cannon & Ball Show, which ran for almost a decade and was followed up by game show Cannon & Ball’s Casino and sitcom Plaza Patrol.
At the time of Ball's passing, Cannon led the tributes, saying, "Rock on, my good friend, I can’t believe this, I’m devastated.”
Not Going Out series 11 is currently airing on Fridays at 9:30pm on BBC One. Visit our TV Guide to see what’s on tonight.