A CELEBRATED figure from the world of comedy has paid tribute to two great predecessors in Southend with the unveiling of a blue commemorative plaque.

Jeffrey Holland, star of Hi di Hi and many other stage and TV comedies, joined other Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy enthusiasts from around the UK for the event at the Park Inn Palace Hotel.

The plaque commemorates the fact Stan and Ollie stayed at the hotel during their 1952 stage tour, which included a spot in Southend.

The pair performed a series of comedy routines at the old Odeon in the High Street.

The plaque was created eight years ago for the 50th anniversary of their visit. It was originally displayed on Southend Pier, where it was unveiled by actor Sir John Mills. It was on display at the Pier Museum until it was found its new permanent site.

Jeffrey, who was accompanied by his wife, the actress Judy Buxton, said: “I have been a Laurel and Hardy enthusiast since the age of ten.

“As a child, I regarded them as my oldest and dearest friends.

“I learnt so much about my trade by studying their work. I’m currently preparing a stage tribute act to Stan Laurel.”

Prior to the unveiling, Jeffrey delighted the audience by performing an imaginary dialogue between Stan and Ollie. Jeffrey and Judy were guests of the Southend branch of Sons of the Desert, the worldwide Laurel and Hardy fan club.