Magical entertainer Alan dies after cancer battle

Local entertainer Alan Martell.
Local entertainer Alan Martell.

Well known entertainer and magician Alan Martell has died after a battle with cancer.

Also known as Alan Philp and ‘Algie’ by fellow Bedford Marianettes he had retired to Spain eight years ago but returned to the UK this summer after being diagnosed by doctors.

He died aged 70 on August 30 at St John’s Hospice in Moggerhanger.

Step-daughter Jo Smith said: “The World is a less magical, less colourful place without Alan and he is greatly missed by many far and wide.”

Alan was well known in and around Bedford for his entertainment and magic shows, he amused audiences with his ventriloquism, Punch and Judy shows, balloon animals, magic shows for children and seamless close up table magic.

He appeared as Scatty the Scarecrow at Thurleigh Farm, as Father Christmas at Wimpole Hall, Frosts garden centres and many schools and Christmas fayres. He even played the gift bearing character for a festive special of television comedy show Benidorm.

Alan, who previously worked as a lift engineer and electrician at Bedford’s BT tower, performed as Fagin in Oliver Twist and the lion in the Wizard of Oz to name but a few of his stage performances with Bedford Marianettes.

He also entertained at many schools and numerous private parties for young and old alike and spent several years entertaining guests on cruise ships.

Jo said: “He was captivated by magic, comedy, radio, theatre and story telling from an early age. He was a member of the Inner Magic Circle and recently toured New Zealand lecturing on magic.

“He was such a big character, very lively and funny.”

In the last few years, Alan worked on film projects with British director John McCormack.

His family have set up a charity page to raise funds for St John’s Hospice, where nurses made his last few days more comfortable.

Jo said: “They are absolutely incredibly people. It is one of those places that unless you have to go there and experience a loved one being looked after there you have no idea how brilliant they are.”

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