Irish comedian Sean Hughes died at the age of 51 on October 11, according to his former agent. The Guardian reports that Hughes was being treated in a London hospital for cirrhosis of the liver. Hughes was perhaps best known for his role on Never Mind the Buzzcocks on the BBC in the early 1990s.
My philosophy is that you can’t force change. I matured very late in life. The idea of not drinking five years ago would have been alien to me. I was blocking things out with drink. You realize that when you’re dealing with a death you can’t block it out. But you have to come to all these places on your own. Once you realize that, you become a more rounded person.
While in August 2014, Hughes wrote in the Irish Times that, “My friends were uncomfortable when I stopped drinking. It made them question their own habits.” Hughes added, “What is it about the Irish and boozing? Does it come from our grand tradition of needing to speak with a drink in our hand? Maybe it comes from the fact that alcohol was put out of our reach when we were kids. We all want what we can’t have. My dad had a habit of dropping in to the pub while leaving us in the car outside with the promise of rich pickings of Coke and crisps. We would while away the hours by nodding at the other kids parked up in other cars as we all looked to the warm glow of the pub.”
In September 2016, Hughes wrote in the Irish Examiner about quitting drinking after a heavy session with The Cure:
At the time, I was drinking way too much. The Cure brought me down to Bath to hang out with them while they were recording an album. They’re one of those bands who sleep during the day and play all night. At half four in the morning, Robert Smith turned to me and said, “Should you and me go out and watch the sunrise together.” I’m not really a spirits guy. I’m more a wine-drinker. He drink brandy so he brings out a bottle of brandy. He had also brought out a mandolin. So we’re sitting there, watching the sun come up together. He’s singing The Cure’s hits, just to me, serenading me, and I’m that pissed that I go, I think it was in the middle of “Love Cats,” “I’m off to bed.” That was when I realized my drinking was getting out of control.”
During his varied career, Hughes worked on his own show for Channel 4, Sean’s Show, starred on the West End in London in the award-winning, Railway Children and had a role on legendary soap opera Coronation Street. While comedians from around the United Kingdom have reached out to pay tribute to Hughes: