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Last Updated: Monday, 18 October, 2004, 09:13 GMT 10:13 UK
Sir Norman takes final stage bow
Sir Norman Wisdom on stage in Norwich
Sir Norman's stage entrance was given a two-minute ovation
Veteran comedian Sir Norman Wisdom has bid farewell to the British stage after a career spanning seven decades.

Sir Norman gave his final bow to a packed house at the Theatre Royal, Norwich, on Sunday night.

The show sold out after Sir Norman announced earlier this week it would be his last stage appearance before retiring when he turns 90 in February.

But he said told the audience he may return to the theatre - if a good role came along.

After Sunday's performance, his only scheduled live shows are at a private function and on a cruise ship.

Sir Norman, who topped the bill at a Variety Show on Sunday, spent almost an hour on stage after receiving a two-minute standing ovation.

If something good theatrically came by I would say 'oh all right'
Sir Norman Wisdom on whether he would take another stage role
He gave the audience a snapshot of his life, telling how he was sent to foster parents in Deal, Kent, aged nine, and how he discovered his comic talent while performing a comedy boxing routine in an army gym.

He rounded off his final performance with a number of his best known songs before answering questions from the audience.

Asked whether he really would retire, Sir Norman said: "I probably will but I'm not retiring from films. I am hoping for an opportunity to do a film.

"If something good theatrically came by I would say: 'Oh all right'."

He completed the question and answer session by complying with a request to perform his best known phrase - "Mr Grimsdale" - from the 1950s film Trouble in Store.

'Worth the wait'

One of Sir Norman's greatest fans watched his hero live for the first time at the show - at the age of 85.

World War II veteran Stan Baines said he had followed the comedian's career for more than 50 years. "I've always been one of his biggest fans," he said.

"I've followed his films and things he's done on television since the 50s, but I've never had the chance to see him live before.

"It's ironic that the first time I see him is his last ever performance in the theatre.

"But it's been worth waiting for. It's been marvellous."

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