"DROWNED COMIC WAS STILL CLUTCHING HIS BEER"
Wednesday, 20th July 2005
comedian Malcolm Hardee, who drowned in the Thames after a marathon
drinking session, was still clutching his bottle of beer when his
body was brought up three days later, a police diver told an inquest
year-old father of two, who helped launch the careers of Jo Brand,
Harry Hill, Johnny Vegas and a host of other top comics, went missing
on 30 January after a late night binge on the floating pub where he
intended to go to his houseboat, moored ten yards nearby, and which
he used to reach by dingy, but he never arrived.
2 a police search team was called and his body was located on the
bottom of the river, still holding a bottle of his favourite Budweiser.
Spirito told Southwark Coroners Court in a statement: "The search
commenced at 10am. At 10.24am one of the officers came up and said
he had found a lifeless body. I followed the officer's line down.
Six metres down I saw a white male. The male had a bottle of beer
clenched in his right hand."
Roy Dawson, overseeing the dive, said: "The bottle was held in
his right hand. It fell from his hand on the ascent and was placed
beside him in the tray."
John Sampson, recording a verdict of accidental death, said. "The
cause of his death was drowning. He was last seen on the quay side
outside the Wibbley Wobbley public house at about 6am on Sunday January
30 having left friends inside the pub some while before. It appears
that whilst he was attempting to access his houseboat from the quay
he fell into the dock and was recovered three days later. I believe
on the evidence I have heard that the only plausible explanation is
that an accident took place here. I declare that this is an accidental
career begun with a stretch in prison for stealing the Rolls Royce
of a prominent politician. On release he became a comedian, pioneering
the naked balloon dance on infamous 80s late night ITV show OTT and
becoming the inspiration for generations of comics that followed.
comedy club Up The Creek, he was pictured on the wall as Christ in
a parady of Da Vinci's 'The Last Supper', with pals such as ex-girlfriend
Brand and Julian Clary as disciples and Ben Elton as Judas Escariot.
noted: "He does seem to have had a colourful career and been
a most interesting and valuable friend and an important member of
Alex Hardee, who is also manager of pop band the Scissor Sisters,
said he had fallen in the dock before and someone had to pull him
out. "It just seemed obvious the next day the little dingy was
floating on its own further down the dock. That night it had been
dark, he had had a few drinks, it was the middle of winter. He didn't
stand a chance."
Friend Jamie Harris had been drinking with Hardee that fateful Saturday evening.
last time I saw him he had a couple of bottles of beer with him. He
said he was going to go, it was about 4.30am. I can't be certain.
I was quite drunk myself. "
Magita Stuber said: "The last time I saw him he had two bottles
of vodka, one in each pocket. He was in a fantastic mood. He used
to have quite a bit to drink before going on stage and he had had
a bit that night before performing. He was drunk when he left us."
heard that a pathologist found large quantities of alcohol in the
comedian's blood and urine.
outside court, sister Clare Hardee said: "Malcolm never had any
enemies ever. Right now I am angry with him because he had so much
more living to do. He would have made a great old age pensioner had
Clare and Malcolm's son Frank, 19, an undergraduate at Oxford University, had both tried to persuade him to live somewhere more landlocked. "We both begged him to move to a flat," said Clare. "We knew about his recklessness. We knew he had fallen in before. The boat where it was was not the best place to be."
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