A happy birthday for Ken Dodd

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Ken Dodd - Grand Theatre, Blackpool

There was a feeling of affection – if not downright “happiness” – in the air as the inimitable master of mirth Ken Dodd brought down the curtain on his Blackpool latest summer season at 12.55am. And the feeling was not just from the audience.

Dodd’s skill as a stand-up comic was undiminished as everyone from Victoria Beckham (‘Smiler’) to the Freemasons, from Specsavers to the Mayor of Blackpool, came under fire from his record breaking wit.

The new Comedy Carpet on Central Promenade, Knott End and the poshness of “Lytham St Aaarnes” were all there as the maestro gave a master class in how to play an audience.

Ken Dodd’s ability to impersonate (Elvis Presley) and to do a variety of accents (especially Brummy) were, if anything, underused and his return to his entertainment roots with ventriloquist’s dummy Dicky Mint was simply superb as a finale.

Plumptiousness and the Diddy Men have largely left the act, but have not been replaced by strong enough material as his stock banter on the battle of the sexes, was too long and repetitive, even though well-delivered and funny.

The audience fell silent as this National Treasure (for that is what he has become) paid an affectionate tribute to Blackpool and to The Grand. As he celebrates his 84th birthday today he said he hoped to be still performing here when he was 100. He finished with a moving and wistful performance of Absent Friends.

Blackpool Illuminations went out whilst he was on stage, but the genius of Kenneth Arthur Dodd, (“I invented self- assessment for taxes”) remains undimmed.

And he’s back next year.