Comic Bernard Manning Dies Updated: 18:22, Monday June 18, 2007 The controversial comedian Bernard Manning has died, aged 76. Manning passed away at the North Manchester General Hospital, where doctors had been treating him for a kidney problem. He had been treated at the hospital for two weeks and had been taken into intensive care over the weekend. But his son Bernard junior told the Manchester Evening News he thought his father's health was improving. Showbiz agent Mickey Martin, a close friend of the comedian, told the paper: "I was going to visit him today but young Bernard called to say he's gone. "It's come all of a sudden as we thought he was on the mend." Mr Martin added: "He was the godfather of The Comedians and it's a sad loss to Manchester as well as to the world of comedy." Manning's controversial style of comedy won him fans and enemies in equal measure. To his fans he was a legend who stuck two fingers up at political correctness; an old-style comic who told it as it was and who targeted anyone and everyone. But to his critics he was a racist who pedalled dated, sexist, homophobic jokes. Manning shot to fame in the 1970s when he appeared in the ITV stand-up show The Comedians alongside Stan Boardman and Frank Carson. "Bernard was a stalwart of The Comedians. We were working-class comics and appearing on that show changed our lives completely. "He loved working and he kept working right until the end. He added: "All these new comedians came in, but how many of them can you remember? There have been millions of them, they came and went. But Bernard carried on performing." Carson said: "He used to make gags about the Irish to me. When I'd come into the room he'd say 'does anyone smell Semtex' and I wouldn't take offence. Many of his Indian neighbours used to make him curries." In recent years Manning suffered from diabetes and ill health. Earlier this month he cancelled a gig for the first time in 60 years after he was taken to hospital with a kidney problem. Carson said: "He'd been suffering for many years. He had three injections a day for diabetes, was stone deaf in one ear, and his sight was going due to the diabetes. "He was really suffering. Some days he couldn't even speak." Manning leaves a son, Bernard, and three grandchildren.