Broadcaster and writer Sir Michael Parkinson has pulled out of tomorrow night’s gala performance of the George Best musical Dancing Shoes at the Grand Opera House in Belfast.
The chat show host was to have been the guest of honour at the event, which is expected to raise thousands of pounds for the George Best foundation.
Parky was a close friend of Best and wrote a biography of the Manchester United and Northern Ireland star who died almost five years ago.
He had said he was looking forward to being part of the tribute night for Best but has had to cancel due to what one source said were unforeseen circumstances.
It’s also understood that Belfast-born TV star Eamonn Holmes, who had been due to attend the gala night, has also been forced to pull out because of a clash of dates with a wedding.
English TV and film star Sean Bean, who is in Belfast filming an HBO series Game Of Thrones, has asked for tickets to see the musical which enjoyed standing ovations from audiences at two previews this week before its official opening tonight.
Over the last two nights special tributes have also been paid by audiences and cast members alike to another Belfast sports star, Alex Higgins, who died last Saturday night.
Actor Paddy Jenkins, who portrays Higgins in the musical, asked for one minute’s applause for the snooker star and the tribute will continue at the end of each show until after Higgins’s funeral on Monday.
Among big names from the sporting world who will be in town to see Dancing Shoes this weekend are ex-Manchester United stars Norman Whiteside, Harry Gregg and Alex Stepney.
Best’s ex-wife Angie and her son Calum will be attending tonight’s opening night.