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Comedian Ian ‘Sludge’ Lees chose his replacement in a much-loved show before he died, it has emerged.
A Black Country Night Out, which over the years has starred Aynuk & Ayli, Tommy Mundon and Dolly Allen, returns to Wolverhampton’s Grand Theatre next month for the first time since the death of the much-loved comic and singer.
Now it has been revealed he suggested stand-up comedian Wayne Beese to step into his shoes at one of the Midlands’ longest running shows. The Dudley entertainer was also top of the production team’s wishlist.
The former journalist, who worked for both the Express & Star and Shropshire Star, was one of the headliners at last year’s Black Country Comedy Show starring TV stand-up Ross Noble at Brierley Hill Civic Hall.
Tributes poured in on the death of 74-year-old Mr Lees, a Cannock-born miner’s son, following a career of more than six decades. But organisers are confident that the latest cast member will be a fitting substitute.
Theatre spokesman Scott Bird said: “Being the ultimate professional, Ian suggested that we should look to replace him for this year’s A Black Country Night Out.
“It was not a surprise that the same name was on both our lists.
“Wayne has been performing stand up for a few years now and has honed his skills both locally and around the UK. The go-to compere for comedy shows, he is a great fit.”
He will compere the show, introducing the likes of Night Out regulars, husband and wife comedy duo Dandy and resident band The Empty Can.
The show will also include some new faces, including comedian Ollie Spencer and ukulele player Joe Thomas. It comes to the Grand on September 11.