THE STARS of Loose Women paid tribute to Britain’s Got Talent star Ian Royce after his sad death was announced last night.
The 51-year-old funnyman was the beloved warm-up act for many ITV shows – including the daytime programme – and his passing has rocked the world of showbiz.
Speaking on today’s episode of Loose Women, Andrea McLean remembered Ian as she sent her love to his grieving family.
As a picture of the behind-the-scenes icon flashed up on screen, the host shared: “We would like to send our very best wishes to the family of Ian Royce, who sadly passed away yesterday.
“Roycey was our warm-up man here on Loose Women a few years ago, he was part of the family behind-the-scenes here at ITV.
“He did warm-up for many of the prime time shows that you at home will have known and loved, and may have even been in the audience for, so you will have seen him in action.
“We just wanted to say he will be very sadly missed and our thoughts are with Roycey’s family.”
Earlier in the day, Piers Morgan fought back tears as he remembered Ian on Good Morning Britain – calling him the “most famous man you haven’t heard of”.
He said: “Very sad news I heard from his daughter Roxanne, probably the most famous person you may not have heard of, but he was famous in the industry.
“He was the best funniest warm up guy there was. Such a thankless task in so many ways. Roycey was the best I’ve ever worked with he did BGT, he did the American one when I went over there. He did almost every one of my Life Story shows.
“He was funny, he had a lot of demons which if you’d followed him on Twitter you will know. But he had a zest for life, he was a hilariously funny guy and he also had a great love for his daughter Roxanne who let me know yesterday.”
Last night, the star had taken to his Instagram page to share a photo of himself and the comic on the set of Life Stories.
Piers wrote at the time: “RIP Ian ‘Roycey’ Royce. Funniest warm-up man in showbiz and a legend in the TV industry.
“Worked with him on @BGT @AGT & most of my Life Stories shows. Great guy, very loyal friend, & such a proud dad to his daughter Roxanne.
“Very sad news. Thanks for all the laughs mate.”
Ant and Dec also paid tribute on social media, tweeting Ian’s daughter: “So sorry to hear this news Roxanne, he was a legendary character and will not be forgotten.
“He was always so proud of you too. You are in our thoughts and prayers xx”.
And Rylan Clark-Neal remembered Ian being his “shoulder to cry on” when he was on The X Factor.
Ian’s daughter Roxanne announced her dad’s death on his official Twitter page yesterday evening.
She wrote: “It is with our greatest regret that we have to tell you all that Ian has passed away today from severe pneumonia and multiple organ failure.
“He was in no pain and was surrounded by friends and family. He put up a good fight but is in a better place now.”
Ian had last tweeted just one week ago and appeared in high spirits as he challenged Ashley Banjo to a dance off after it was confirmed he’d be stepping in for injured Simon Cowell on the BGT judging panel.
He wrote to his 68,000 followers on 24th August: “@AshleyBanjo to sit in for @SimonCowell…
“Get well soon @SimonCowell and go @AshleyBanjo …. Dance off??”
Last year, the hype-man bravely admitted that he was battling alcoholism, with a friend creating a GoFundMe page to raise £20,000 for him to check into rehab facility The Priory.
In a video, Ian, who had admitted considering taking his own life in the fundraising bio, said: “Please, please, please give me some hope.”
Ant and Dec each donated £2,500, with Simon Cowell and Robbie Williams also among the donors.
Ian confirmed he’d be completing a 28-day programme in October last year, writing: “To rehab I do go… Thank you so much to everyone for your help…
“Pucker up @PrioryGroup I’m on my way.”
He also thanked his celebrity friends for their support – claiming that they had “saved his life”.
He wrote at the time: “I am so grateful to so many for saving my life….. Thank you so much everyone and my amazing girlfriend xx @SimonCowell @antanddec @robbiewilliams @ollyofficial thank you for a light…..”