John Comer

John Comer (1 March 1924 – 11 February 1984) was a British comic actor. He was best known for his roles in Coronation Street as Mr Birtles, then as a taxi driver, and later as Wilf Jones, in Emmerdale Farm as Ernie Shuttleworth, Les Brandon in I Didn't Know You Cared, and cafe owner Sid in Last of the Summer Wine.

John Comer
John Comer.png
Born1 March 1924
Died11 February 1984 (aged 59)
Resting placeCarleton Crematorium and Cemetery, Carleton, Lancashire, England
Years active1941-1984

Early lifeEdit

Born and brought up in Stretford, Lancashire,[1] Comer gained an engineering apprenticeship at Metropolitan-Vickers, Trafford Park.[2]

Early careerEdit

Comer began his career performing a comedy routine around local social clubs and pubs in the 1930s and 1940s.[citation needed] In 1952, with his younger brother Tony, he performed in a children's theatre production for local schools in Stretford.[citation needed] The siblings then formed a double act named the Comer Brothers.[1] In 1957 the brothers began a regular slot at the Manchester Apollo, performing a variety act entitled Comer's Cottage.[citation needed]

Tony & John Comer, as the Comer Brothers

In 1958 the Comer Brothers participated in an ITV talent show called Bid for Fame and began working for Butlin's.[citation needed] In 1959 they won first prize in the Butlin's National Talent Contest, winning £1,000 and a film contract[1] with the Boulting Brothers.[2]


In 1959 the Boulting Brothers cast John and Tony Comer in the film I'm All Right Jack, in which they starred alongside Peter Sellers and Richard Attenborough as trade union shop stewards. Their next film roles were in 1961, when they featured alongside Rita Tushingham in A Taste of Honey. However shortly afterwards Tony decided to leave showbusiness and returned to full-time work at Metropolitan-Vickers, while John decided to continue pursuing his film career. He appeared in the Boulting Brothers' 1967 film The Family Way as a father-of-the-bride to Hayley Mills's character, whose father John Mills portrayed her father-in-law.

He gained a recurring role in 1973 as the primary supporting role of Sid in the new BBC sitcom Last of the Summer Wine. He also starred in a long-running advertising campaign for Home Brew Beer.[2] 1977 saw him appear as Bill Malley in the BBC series Murder Most English. Comer appeared in an episode of All Creatures Great and Small entitled "The Name of the Game" in 1978.

John Comer as Sid with Jane Freeman as Ivy in Last of the Summer Wine


Comer died of throat cancer in 1984, at the age of 59.[3] The disease had so affected his voice that in his final television appearance, as cafe owner Sid, in the Last of the Summer Wine Christmas episode Getting Sam Home, his lines had to be dubbed by another actor, Tony Melody. His funeral was held at Carleton Crematorium, Blackpool, where he is commemorated at rose-bed no. 18. After the death of Comer's wife, Mollie, in 2010, his estate was finalised; in 2013 the Comer family donated £245,000 to the hospice in Blackpool where John Comer was treated before his death.[1]

Film rolesEdit

Year Title Role Notes
1959 I'm Alright Jack Union Shop Steward
1960 Hell Is a City Plainclothes Police Driver Uncredited
1963 Heavens Above! Butcher
1964 The Counterfeit Constable
1965 Rotten to the Core Police Sergeant Uncredited
1966 The Family Way Leslie Piper
1968 Happy Deathday Briggs
1969 Battle of Britain Policeman Uncredited
1970 There's a Girl in My Soup John, the porter
1970 Wuthering Heights
1971 Villain Waiter at House of Commons Uncredited
1971 Mr. Forbush and the Penguins Police Sergeant
1972 Dr. Phibes Rises Again Ship's Officer Uncredited
1973 The Lovers! Geoffrey's Dad
1981 Memoirs of a Survivor Man delivering Emily

Television rolesEdit

Year Title Role Notes
1962-63 Coronation Street Mr. Birtles
1965 Coronation Street Taxi Driver
1966 Pardon the Expression Policeman
1967 Turn out the Lights Policeman
1968 Coronation Street Wilf Jones
1973 Bless This House The Landlord
1973 Crown Court Police Constable Episode: The mugging of Arthur Simmons
1972-1974 Play For Today Various
1973 All Our Saturdays Wilf
1973-1983 Last of the Summer Wine Sid (final appearance)
1975 The Life of Riley George Pollitt
1975 Emmerdale Farm Ernie Shuttleworth 3 episodes
1975-1979 I Didn't Know You Cared Les Brandon
1976-1978 Potter's Picture Palace Sidney Bogart
1977 Murder Most English Recurring role as a police sergeant
1977 Survivors Les Norton
1978 All Creatures Great and Small Mr. Dimmock
1980 Nice Work Mr. Blundell


  1. ^ a b c d Banks, Kate (11 April 2013). "Late Last of the Summer Wine actor's family to donate £245,000 to cancer hospice". UK: Messenger Newspapers. Archived from the original on 17 January 2016. Retrieved 28 March 2016.
  2. ^ a b c "The Comer Brothers". St Ann's Stretford Parish Magazine. Christmas 2007. p. 14.
  3. ^ "Help hospice in your will". The Gazette. Blackpool, Lancashire, UK: Johnston Publishing Ltd. 8 October 2013. Archived from the original on 26 May 2016. Retrieved 26 May 2016.

External linksEdit