SHOWBIZ is mourning the death of legendary entertainer Joe Longthorne whose road to stardom began in Hampshire.

A multi talented singer and impressionist Joe died after losing a long battle against cancer aged 64.

Longthorne cut his teeth on the tough northern club circuit. But his big break came in the early 80s when he was a finalist in London Weekend Television’s Search for A Star.

Auditions for the iconic TV programme were held at the Saints Supporters’ Club at The Dell.

Longthorne was one of the hopefuls and it did not take the judges long to spot his star potential and overnight he became a household name.

Former Daily Echo journalist Duncan Eaton ,who covered that Southampton audition, said: “ You could see then that Joe was going to be a big star and was head and shoulders above the rest of those who auditioned.”

He regularly featured on TV programmes in the 1980s, including the Les Dennis Laughter Show and the Royal Variety Performance, and also appeared in theatre in the US and at the Sydney Opera House.

During his rise to fame the popular Yorkshireman, who had an army of fans, battled against illness including life-threatening leukaemia.

In 2006 he underwent a bone marrow transplant to save his life.

Later that year he performed to a sell out audience at the London Palladium and in 2007 received a lifetime achievement award from the Variety Club of Great Britain.

And in 2012 Joe was awarded the MBE from The Queen at Buckingham Palace.

While he battled against illness he continued to tour and Jamie Mathieson of The Concorde Club recalled how the multi- talented entertainer bravely battled on to give a blockbusting performance at the Stoneham Lane club.

He told the Daily Echo“We are saddened to hear of the passing of Joe Longthorne. He appeared at The Concorde in 2016 - although of ill health at the time he produced a fantastic performance. He will be sorely missed.”