STARS of stage and screen have been paying tribute to an Acocks Green theatre stalwart who has died aged just 48.
Pantomime company manager Ian Sandy, who worked at Birmingham Hippodrome for over 20 years, passed away at the city’s Heartlands Hospital on December 23 after suffering a heart attack.
At 6ft 1in tall and weighing 20 stone, the ‘gentle giant’ of theatre had been acting since he first took to the stage aged 17, playing Billy Bunter.
Now tributes have been flooding social networking sites Twitter and Facebook, from those who knew the ‘larger than life’ character.
Thom Faulkner, from Solihull Society of Arts drama section, said: “Massive influence on my life, who gave me some of my first big breaks and introduced me to theatre. Will be sadly missed.”
Julian Clary wrote on Twitter: ‘RIP dear Ian Sandy, company manager extraordinaire. Birmingham won’t be the same without you’.
BBC WM’s Ed Doolan, who used to host him for Christmas Day lunch every year, said: “Ian Sandy was a gentle giant with a roaring sense of humour.”
Ian was an actor, director and tireless producer of local productions including Solihull’s Malcolm Stent’s Go and Play up Your Own End. He also chaperoned stars including Brian Conley, John Barrowman, Bobby Davro and Joan Collins.
But it’s through his junior theatre school BSS Showbiz, set up ten years ago, that his legacy will live on.
More than 150 children attended Ian’s classes in acting, singing and dancing at the Birmingham Hippodrome every term. They were so successful, that he had planned to offer classes at Solihull’s Dovehouse Theatre from April.