A red sea of fezes engulfed a Chiswick side street as a blue plaque to mark Tommy Cooper's home was unveiled "just like that".

The comedian lived for nearly three decades with his wife and two children at 51 Barrowgate Road, Chiswick, from 1955 until his death in 1984.

Fans of the towering "giant of comedy", known for his deliberately bad magic, donned his trademark red fez as they gathered outside his former house on Thursday (May 12) afternoon to watch the memorial being revealed.

Clive St James Greenaway performs some magic tricks outside the former home of Tommy Cooper, with a little help from FA chairman Greg Dyke

They were treated to some tricks first as Clive St James Greenaway, president of the Tommy Cooper Society, invoked the spirit of the great man to conjure up a typically shambolic but side-splitting magic show.

FA chairman Greg Dyke, a member of English Heritage's blue plaque panel, recalled the pleasure and pain of working with the comedy legend when Mr Cooper was a guest on an LWT show, hosted by Michael Aspel.

Rather than performing the tumbler trick he had run through in rehearsals, the comic opted for one which involved setting fire to a handkerchief, sparking panic in an unsuspecting Mr Aspel and Mr Dyke, who was producing the show.

'Michael Aspel and I were terrified'

Nisar Malik chats with 92-year-old Joan Rhoades, who was born in Barrowgate Road, Chiswick, where Tommy Cooper lived for nearly 30 years

"Michael and I were terrified, but the audience, who realised nothing was planned and saw Michael had no idea what was happening, were rolling in the aisles with laughter," he explained, saying how the episode encapsulated Mr Cooper's unique and undefinable talent.

We asked those present at the ceremony for their Tommy Cooper impersonations, and you can judge the results for yourself.

Chiswick councillor John Todd, who nominated Mr Cooper's house to receive a blue plaque, described the comedian as "a man of the people" and said he was often seen around Chiswick "picking people's brains" as he worked on his act.

He recounted the legendary tale of how the comic would pay taxi drivers the exact fare before sticking a tea bag in their pocket and saying "have a drink on me".

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"I'm really delighted to have a permanent memorial to Tommy in his beloved Chiswick," he concluded.

Mr Greenaway, who is a Tommy Cooper impersonator, delighted the audience with his gags - many borrowed from the comic legend.

"As a young lad I lived just round the corner from here and I remember speaking to him at the gates one day," he said.

"I said 'when I grow up I want to be a magician just like you', and he replied 'you can't do both'."

A poster of Tommy Cooper at the unveiling of a blue plaque in Chiswick

'I can feel his love and energy still present'

Mr Cooper was true comic royalty, he said, and being invited by Tommy's family to his former home to collect one of his old fezes felt like "going to meet the Queen and getting knighted".

"Being back here today, I can feel his love and energy still present," he added in a rare moment of earnestness.

Mr Greenaway delighted the audience with his routine of bungled magic before finishing with a perfectly performed Indian rope trick to illustrate what Mr Cooper was really capable of "behind closed doors".

The English Heritage blue plaque at Tommy Cooper's former home in Barrowgate Road, Chiswick

As the balloons were released to reveal the plaque, he invited everybody to do their best impression of one of the country's most inimitable yet most mimicked entertainers.

Mr Dyke, Mr Todd and Hounslow mayor Nisar Malik were among those who joined in the hearty rendition as the catchphrase "just like that" echoed down the street.

A house in Chelsea which was formerly home to the dramatist Samuel Beckett and the eminent physicist Patrick Blackett recently received the rare distinction of having two blue plaques.

The late Queen singer Freddie Mercury is among several west London celebrities due to be honoured with blue plaques this year by English Heritage.

How the 'unpleasant-looking man with a gruff voice' became a national treasure

Tommy Cooper's gags were hugely popular... but not always with taxi drivers

Tommy Cooper was born in Caerphilly Wales and his love of illusions began when he received a magic set for his eighth birthday.

He served with the Desert Rats, which Cllr Todd said was how he ended up with his trademark red fez.

"He was in Cairo and lost his helmet, so he nicked a fez from one of the waiters and got enormous laughs," said the councillor.

Mr Greenaway told how the "comic genius" was a talented magician and a member of the famous Magic Circle, but soon discovered you got more laughs by messing up tricks than giving a polished performance.

He said Mr Cooper was always performing and had once cut off the bottom of his trouser legs, walked to his local library and announced "here's a turn-up for the books".

So popular that pubs closed early as everyone was watching him on TV

He recalled how after leaving the Army, Mr Cooper had sold handbags on the old Covent Road, delighting customers with his array of tricks.

Mr Cooper's first BBC audition was far from a success, with an uncomplimentary report describing him as "an unpleasant-looking man with a gruff-sounding voice - not really the sort we want at the BBC".

Councillor John Todd, Clive St James Greenaway and Hounslow mayor Nisar Malik at the unveiling of a plaque to Tommy Cooper

But his rapid ascent meant two years later bosses at the BBC were begging him to open their new studio, and his show became so popular that pubs in Chiswick would shut early as everyone was at home watching him - much to the annoyance of Mr Cooper, who was a regular at the old Queens Head pub, which is now the Smokehouse bar and restaurant.

He died from a heart attack while performing live on TV in 1984, aged 63, and his anarchic reputation meant many of those watching initially believed his collapse was part of the act.

"In some ways it was appropriate that he died live on stage... he fooled everyone even at the end of his life," said Mr Dyke.

getwestlondon recently reported how research suggested a blue plaque could increase the value of a property by up to three times.