Tributes paid to comedy legend Sir Ken Dodd

Tributes have been paid to legend Sir Ken Dodd who had been drawing sell-out crowds to Scarborough for decades.

Monday, 12th March 2018, 9:03 am
Updated Tuesday, 13th March 2018, 2:55 pm
Sir Ken Dodd has died aged 90.

The top comic has died aged 90 just two days after marrying his partner of 40 years.

The Liverpool legend had recently been released from hospital after six weeks of treatment for a chest infection.

Ken Dodd outside the Villa Esplanade during filming in August 1970. Picture by Roz Airey

On Sunday March 11, his publicist announced that he had passed away at his home in the Liverpool suburb of Knotty Ash.

Two days earlier he had married Anne Jones, his partner of 40 years, at their house.

Barrie Stead, former director of the Futurist Theatre, said: "It's a very sad day to hear of the passing of the ultimate King of Comedy, Sir Ken Dodd, whom Brenda and myself counted as a personal true show business friend.

"Doddy was already a comedy legend when I first met him over 60 years ago. This meeting was to discuss a major Christmas show which I was to produce at the Opera House Manchester. Although called a Christmas Show it ran twice nightly for over 16 weeks running into Easter playing to capacity audiences each performance, over 4000 people per evening.

Ken Dodd outside the Villa Esplanade during filming in August 1970. Picture by Roz Airey

"This tremendous record of Ken's ability to fill theatres has never waned. What a fantastic tribute to his talents as a singer, actor and comedian that he still maintained his reputation to fill theatres to the last curtain call.

"When Brenda and I took over the Futurist he was the first act on the phone wishing us all success and to book a date. As Futurist patrons know they were in for a treat, value for money, always no less than a 5 hour show!

"We thank Sir Ken for bringing us all lots and lots of: HAPPINESS"

"Our thoughts are with Ann Jones."

Famous for his very long stand-up shows, Sir Ken was still touring until last year - along with his Diddy Men and the tickling stick.

Sir Ken loved performing in Scarborough and spent many summer seasons on stage at the resort.

Speaking to the Scarborough Evening News in 1990, Sir Ken said about Scarborough: "It's my favourite place, honest. I have gone on record with that. There are so many places to walk, it has such beautiful views, and it is so interesting."

Having started his working life as a coalman and later a travelling salesman, Sir Ken's ambitions always lay on the stage.

It was at the Theatre Royal, Nottingham, which saw his £75-a-week professional debut in 1954.

He soon went on to launch a regular round of summer seasons and pantomimes.

In the 1960s, he made it into the Guinness Book of Records for telling 1,500 jokes in three and a half hours.

He was knighted in the Queen's New Year's Honours list in 2017.

Tony Peers, a Scarborough businessman and entertainer, said: "I worked with him over the years and I'm very upset we are saying goodbye to the greatest of stand up comics.

"There's no doubt that he was among the greatest. An act like his is never to be seen again, he's a one off. I'm shocked by the news, it is the end of an era.

"I came to Scarborough in 1983 and I think I've seen him in Scarborough every year since. He was very very well thought of in Scarborough. He had a big following in the town and rightly so.

"It is tremendously sad that we are saying goodbye."

Sue Wilkinson, entertainments and feature writer at The Scarborough News, said: "I was privileged to have seen Ken Dodd on stage twice. I interviewed him more than 30 years ago in his dressing room at the Mayflower Theatre in Southampton.

"He was smashing - honest, down to earth and funny. He autographed one of his famous tickling sticks for me - which I still have.

"My nana and me shared a love of one of his songs - which made it into the charts. It was called Think Of Me - and was a huge dollop of lovely sentiment. He was under-estimated as a crooner.

"Ken Dodd was one of the entertainers for which the word 'legend' can be legitimately applied. Music hall and variety have died with him - there will never be anyone else like him."

He was due to play Bridlington later this year.