Tributes paid to Richard III Museum founder Mike Bennett

Mike Bennett in his one-man show, An Audience with King Richard III.

Mike Bennett in his one-man show, An Audience with King Richard III.

First published in News
Last updated
York Press: Photograph of the Author by , Chief reporter

THE man who founded York's Richard III Museum and helped launch the careers of several comic legends when he ran a York comedy club has died, aged 55.

Father-of-two Mike Bennett had been suffering from multiple sclerosis since 2007 and bowel cancer since February last year, said his widow Janet.

She paid tribute to his bravery, and also thanked nurses who enabled him to die peacefully at his home in South Bank, last Sunday.

“Mike was kind, warm, funny and generous, and full of ideas and conversation,” she said.

“He has been described more than once this week as 'one of the good guys.'

“He was a devoted dad to his two sons, George, who is eight, and Sam, who is four, and was incredibly brave in the face of his illness. He was very positive about it and just tried to live for each day.

“I would like to thank the brilliant Macmillan/Palliative care team, the fantastic district nurses and the truly expert staff from St Leonard's Hospice at Home service, who made it possible for him to die in his own home, as he wanted.”

She said Mike, from Manchester, who leaves a sister Judith, from Stockton on Forest, had graduated from the University of York in 1980 and performed in a white reggae band called The Plainsmen.

He then worked as an attendant at the Castle Museum, ran a York walking tour and worked for print firm Pindar before, in the early 1990s, setting up and running the Comedy Shack at the Bonding Warehouse.

He asked a then unknown north-eastern comedian called Ross Noble to compere the club's shows, and the guests in his first three shows were Mark Thomas, Alistair McGowan and Jo Brand, and Lee Evans later appeared there as well, all of whom went on to become massive stars.

He and another York man, Paul Osborne, formed a comedy duo called The Two Tones, which lost in a heat at the BBC Northern New Comedy awards in Manchester to another unknown comedian, Peter Kay.

In 1993, Mike took over a small museum at Monk Bar in 1993 and turned it into the hugely successful Richard III Museum.

He wrote and performed in a show called An Audience with King Richard 111 for a decade, in which, dressed as the controversial monarch, he attempted to answer the charges made against him.

Janet said Mike continued to run the museum from home when he became too ill to go in, speaking to staff every day, until he sold it to the Jorvik Group earlier this year.

* Mike's funeral will take place at York Cemetery chapel at 11am next Monday.

Comments (9)

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10:13am Fri 21 Mar 14

AntMcM says...

Mike is a great loss to his family, friends and the city of York and he will be much missed.
Mike is a great loss to his family, friends and the city of York and he will be much missed. AntMcM
  • Score: 15

10:29am Fri 21 Mar 14

The Junkyard Angel says...

RIP Mike, I knew you years ago mate whilst you lived in South Bank. Lovely guy with a dry sense of humour. So sad.
RIP Mike, I knew you years ago mate whilst you lived in South Bank. Lovely guy with a dry sense of humour. So sad. The Junkyard Angel
  • Score: 13

11:06am Fri 21 Mar 14

Grumpy Old Man says...

A sad loss. Spent many an hour arguing with Mike about his serious passion for Richard III. A man who knew his stuff and defended his views vigorously but always willing to listen to the other side and always good company. Gone far too young.
A sad loss. Spent many an hour arguing with Mike about his serious passion for Richard III. A man who knew his stuff and defended his views vigorously but always willing to listen to the other side and always good company. Gone far too young. Grumpy Old Man
  • Score: 16

11:25am Fri 21 Mar 14

Firedrake says...

I am very sorry to hear this news. I worked with Mike just once, quite some time ago now, but but I recall the experience with affection and respect.
I am very sorry to hear this news. I worked with Mike just once, quite some time ago now, but but I recall the experience with affection and respect. Firedrake
  • Score: 15

12:13pm Fri 21 Mar 14

StarB74 says...

I met Mike last summer during my first trip to York. I'd come from far to visit the museum and am grateful to have benefited from his passion for Richard III. RIP Mike. Like Richard, you now belong to the ages.
I met Mike last summer during my first trip to York. I'd come from far to visit the museum and am grateful to have benefited from his passion for Richard III. RIP Mike. Like Richard, you now belong to the ages. StarB74
  • Score: 14

1:32pm Fri 21 Mar 14

Blancsanglier says...

Such a young age, my thoughts are with his family. So very sad.
Also, a serious loss to Richard’s cause, I hope he can Requiescat in Pace and I do hope they get to meet and Mike at last gets the answers to all those mysteries!
Such a young age, my thoughts are with his family. So very sad. Also, a serious loss to Richard’s cause, I hope he can Requiescat in Pace and I do hope they get to meet and Mike at last gets the answers to all those mysteries! Blancsanglier
  • Score: 16

2:01pm Fri 21 Mar 14

rodney'sdog says...

Another York legend leaves us. Worked with Mike a couple of times and a witty more knowledgeable guy you would struggle to find. A great loss.
Another York legend leaves us. Worked with Mike a couple of times and a witty more knowledgeable guy you would struggle to find. A great loss. rodney'sdog
  • Score: 12

4:41pm Fri 21 Mar 14

Judy Thomson says...

If Mr. Bennett enlightened even one person via An Audience with King Richard III, it was worth the effort.

Sincere condolences to his family and friends

Judy Thomson
Chicago
USA
If Mr. Bennett enlightened even one person via An Audience with King Richard III, it was worth the effort. Sincere condolences to his family and friends Judy Thomson Chicago USA Judy Thomson
  • Score: 11

6:36pm Fri 21 Mar 14

Yorkiebear says...

I worked with him at Pindar and was a fantastic man who made a great contribution to York on so many levels. I am sorry his children will not have him around as they grow up.

Condolences to his family.
I worked with him at Pindar and was a fantastic man who made a great contribution to York on so many levels. I am sorry his children will not have him around as they grow up. Condolences to his family. Yorkiebear
  • Score: 13

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