Britain’s Got Talent Star Antonio ‘Popeye’ Francis, Dies Aged 54

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Antonio 'Popeye' Francis BGTITV

Britain’s Got Talent semi-finalist, Antonio ‘Popeye’ Francis, has died at the age of 54.

The talent show star, who appeared on the ITV programme back in 2011, died after experiencing a stroke, as well as bleeding on the brain on Saturday (18 August).

Antonio was known for his unusual routine where he would pop out his eyeballs in time to music.

According to The Sun, Antonio’s son Dan Francis – who performed on Britain’s Got Talent in 2013 – said:

What’s crazy is he was there for at least six days so he’d survived for at least six days before we got him into the hospital and for the first two days he was breathing by himself.

This morning we woke up and I saw him take his last breath and then he stopped breathing.

Dan added:

Over the last 10 years he’s been in and out of hospital 90 per cent of the time.

He was back and forth from Barbados where he was staying with out grandma and he started losing his memory.

He randomly came back to London, we didn’t know why because he had nowhere to stay so he started sleeping rough.

We found out he was sleeping on buses at night and staying round friends houses and travelling up and down the country.

We didn’t really know what was wrong, because he wouldn’t tell us, plus he was losing his memory. We managed to get him a temporary place in Harlow.

Antonio’s family are now raising money to hold his funeral in Barbados, according to his wishes, and have set up a GoFundMe page:

He had told me and my sibling he was moving to Barbados as if he passes away, thats where he wants to die and be buried and had went there to stay with our grandma but ended up in hospital most of his time there.

His weight and health started to dramatically improve how ever he randomly came back to London with no where to stay and started roaming the streets and sleeping on the night busses but when we was asking him what was happening we always received mixed answers as he couldn’t remember much.

My older brother helped him find a temporary place until he was ready to go back to Barbados but the only place available was in Harlow, miles away from any of us.

Because he kept loosing his belongings including his phone it was nearly impossible to contact him unless he went to the library and messaged us on Facebook.

At the time of writing, the page has raised £1,660 of the £5,000 goal.

Tributes have flooded in for the unique performer, from both fans and those he worked alongside.

Fellow Britain’s Got Talent contestants The Circus of Horrors tweeted:

Sad to hear one of our former performers Antionio Popeye Francis has sadly passed away. He performed on the same @BGT series as us & performed with us at 2 of our runs @GreatDorsetSteamFair.

We will dedicate our performances at @GDSF to him. RIP Popeye.

Actress Nicky B tweeted:

RIP Antonio Francis aka POPEYE. A most beautiful, caring and funny man. Now a star to live among the stars.

Good night and God bless my sweet friend.

Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Antonio Francis at this difficult time.

If you have experienced a bereavement and would like to speak with someone in confidence contact Cruse Bereavement Care via their national helpline on 0808 808 1677.

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Julia Banim

Julia Banim

Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications. When not Lad-ing about, she enjoys cooking, reading and trying not to fall over in Yoga.