A PERMANENT memorial to comedy legend Ronnie Corbett is being lined up for the Capital after the idea won support from showbiz personalities and politicians.
A regular TV fixture for more than half a century, Edinburgh-born Corbett died on Thursday at the age of 85 following a secret battle with motor neurone disease.
It would be nice to have some popular cultural figures represented in the city’s statuary instead of kings and queens and old fuddy-duddiesTommy Sheppard
Fellow entertainers and politicians have insisted that he must be publicly recognised in the city he called home, though opinions differ on the best way to celebrate his life.
Ideas include re-naming city landmarks, erecting a statue in his honour and dedicating a Fringe comedy award to the star.
Among the more radical proposals was re-naming the St James Centre in his honour when it re-opens in 2020 following a £850 million revamp.
Former Simple Minds boss and music supremo Bruce Findlay, who mooted the idea, said: “We could name it the Ronnie Corbett Centre.
“Otherwise, we could name a very public street or square after him. I don’t mean some street in the suburbs but a busy street or square. Nobody had a bad word to say about him. Everybody loved him.
“People think of him as a mainstream comedian but at the time what he was doing was quite ground-breaking. He definitely has to be honoured. I’m surprised he hasn’t been granted the freedom of the city already – he was such an iconic Edinburgh person and we are all very proud him.”
Lord Provost Donald Wilson said he would “encourage” people to come forward with suggestions on how to honour one of the Capital’s most famous sons.
He said: “The flood of tributes for Ronnie from local people has been tremendous. There are lots of people who would love to see the comedian’s memory live on in some way or another in the Capital.”
Born in Edinburgh in 1930, Corbett was brought up in a Marchmont tenement, attending James Gillespie’s High School and the Royal High.
He regularly returned to the city of his birth throughout his life and was a keen supporter of the Fringe.
Karen Koren, comedy impresario and Gilded Balloon founder, is investigating whether a Festival award could be named after the comedy star.
She said: “He was an Edinburgh man and supported the Fringe. I only met him once unfortunately and I would have liked to know him a bit better.
“He came to the Gilded Balloon to see a show with his wife. I took him for a drink and we got on famously.
“It would be a great thing to honour him in this way. He was a comedy icon and will be sorely missed.”
Tommy Sheppard, SNP MP for Edinburgh East and founder of The Stand comedy clubs, suggested that a public statue would be fitting.
He said: “It would be nice to have some popular cultural figures represented in the city’s statuary instead of kings and queens and old fuddy-duddies.
“It wouldn’t have to be a big statue because he wasn’t very tall but he should be commemorated. It could be in a busy pedestrianised area. Some people forget he was an Edinburgh boy and when they think of Scottish comedy they tend to think of people from the west coast like Frankie Boyle.”
Latterly, Corbett owned a house in Gullane in East Lothian, and was a prominent member of the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers at Muirfield.
He was also a keen supporter of the Scottish Seabird Centre in North Berwick.
Tom Brock, chief executive of the attraction, said it would be “fitting” to have some sort of public recognition of Mr Corbett in East Lothian.
He said: “I think it would be appropriate and nice to remember and acknowledge a very special person. But it is for the people of East Lothian to come up with ideas which can then be put before the council. That would be the best thing.
“He helped to raise the funds for us to build the centre through a special concert. He came back on several occasions and unveiled the sculptures just outside our front door. We are extremely grateful for all the support that both he and his wife have given to the centre. He loved this part of the world and the community was a very important thing for him. You used to see him on the High Street in North Berwick just doing his shopping.”
Gavin Wallace, owner of the Village Coffee House in Gullane, described Corbett as a “gentleman” who used to pop in for a cup of tea with his family.
He said: “He was a lovely man, very easy to get on with. He enjoyed living in the village.
“He used to come in, some times with his wife and some times with his grandchildren. He was very pleasant and he will be missed.”