Remembering Sean Hughes: ‘The sadness is he didn’t get to be old, just lonely’

Since his death, a complicated picture of the comedian has emerged. We were friends at the height of his fame and I saw his cruelty first hand. Others say that he later changed, before his drinking spiralled out of control

Carl Donnelly was driving on Monday morning when his phone rang. He could not pick up, but when he saw who had called – someone who was friends with him and Sean Hughes – he guessed what was coming. He called back and learned that Hughes, just 51 years old, had been picked up from his home by an ambulance on Sunday night. On the way to hospital he went into cardiac arrest. He died shortly afterwards. It transpired that he was also suffering from cirrhosis of the liver.

Related: Sean Hughes obituary

We were honest with each other and listened to one another’s insecurities continually. He was very open with me

In the last year,
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