Blackpool pays tribute to comedy genius Sir Ken Dodd
Tributes have been paid to comedy legend Sir Ken Dodd who died just two days after getting married.
A regular on the Blackpool circuit throughout his career, Sir Ken, who was 90, had been due to return to the resort later this year for his annual month of Sunday shows.
The much-loved star, famous for his epic stand-up shows, his tickling sticks and Diddy Men, died on Sunday with his wife at his bedside.
He left hospital on February 27 at the end of a six-week stay for a chest infection to return to his home in the Liverpool suburb of Knotty Ash.
He wed Anne Jones, his partner of 40 years, on Friday and an announcement was due to go out later this week about the marriage.His publicist Robert Holmes said: “To my mind, he was
one of the last music hall greats. There is no-one else that comes close.
“He passed away in the home that he was born in over 90 years ago. He’s never lived anywhere else. It’s absolutely amazing.“With Ken gone, the lights have been turned out in the world of variety.
“He was a comedy legend and a genius.”
Although his lifelong ties to Knotty Ash are famed, Sir Ken has a connection to Blackpool going back decades.
He first performed in the resort in 1954, returning the following year to Central Pier, alongside Morecambe and Wise.
It was the beginning of a long and happy connection with Blackpool that saw him become one of the resort’s longest running comedians, never missing a season.
Such was his standing in the resort that he was invited to open the Comedy Carpet back in 2011.
He played at the Grand in November last year, 63 years after his first Blackpool show. The venue yesterday opened a book of condolences for people to pay their respects.
Ruth Eastwood, the Grand’s chief executive, said: “Ken wasn’t just a performer at the Grand Theatre, he was a huge supporter of the venue, giving his time and talent to helping raise the funds to save the theatre from demolition, back in the 1970s and then, every year since the theatre re-opened, he’s performed on our stage.
“The thing that I will always remember about Ken was his huge generosity.
“He would meet and talk to fans before and after every show, signing autographs and sharing memories into the early hours of the morning. He was a proper star and he will be very sadly missed.”
Michael Williams, managing director at the Winter Gardens, said: “Sir Ken Dodd was a true legend of variety and a honourable gentlemen who performed many times at the Opera House Blackpool to packed houses, making the wall of honour in 1981, headlining that year’s summer season.
“His work in Blackpool, though his shows and advocacy will be forever treasured. It’s a sad day in the world of entertainment and our thoughts are with his family and friends at this time.”
Managing director at the Pleasure Beach Amanda Thompson wrote on Twitter: “So sad to hear the news of Ken Dodd passing away. The greatest friend to us all.
“What an icon to the world of Variety. An amazing man who dedicated his life to making us laugh, giving us magic too... you will be remembered, you will be missed.”
Sir Ken, known for his unruly hair and teeth, performed his very last show just months ago, at The Auditorium in the Liverpool Echo Arena on December 28. But all 2018 dates had to be cancelled due to his illness and subsequent hospital stay.
Mr Holmes said: “It’s been my privilege to have looked after him for 47 years. I’m privileged to have been there for him and he for me. This time last year I was by his side when he got his knighthood and he was so very proud then.
“I shall really miss him.”
Brandishing a tickling stick and greeted by his Diddy Men, the star had vowed to carry on with his tattifilarious comedy when he left hospital last month.
“I’m going to teach my legs how to work again, they’ve forgotten you know, and once I’ve recovered myself I’ll get back to doing the job, which is the only job I’ve ever had,” he said at the time.
“While I was in here, I wrote some new jokes, so it should be all right.”
Over the 1960s, he entered the Guinness Book of Records for the longest joke-telling session ever - 1,500 jokes in three-and-a-half hours.
His TV shows included The Ken Dodd Show, Beyond Our Ken and Ken Dodd’s Laughter Show, and he entered the big time in 1965 with the longest-ever run at the London Palladium - 42 weeks.
Also a well-known singer, in 1964 the star released his first single, Happiness, followed by smash hit Tears in 1965, and then Promises.
The veteran comic was knighted in honour of his decades-long showbiz career and charity work in March last year.
Tributes to a comedy icon
Stars have paid tribute to comedy giant Sir Ken Dodd following his death aged 90.
The veteran entertainer has been hailed as a ‘legend’ and an ‘inspiration’, with tributes pouring in from everyone from Dawn French to David Walliams.
Sandi Toksvig wrote on Twitter: “Best dinner companion I ever sat next to. Don’t think I said a word. Just laughed and laughed and tried not to drown in my soup. Thank you for the genius x”
David Walliams wrote of the Liverpool funnyman: “Comedy flowed through him like water. RIP Sir Ken Dodd.”
John Bishop, who was born in Liverpool, wrote on Instagram: “True comedy legend. RIP Sir Ken Dodd.”
Russ Abbot said: “Sadly another legend has passed away.“An icon, a one off and a true professor of comedy. One of the greatest. How tickled I am to have known him.”
Comic Gary Delaney called him ‘one of the all time greats’, and, referencing the fact Sir Ken’s shows could often last for hours, added: “The funeral will be held on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and most of Saturday.”
French paid tribute to Sir Ken with one of his famous jokes, writing on Twitter: “What a wonderful day for sticking a cucumber through your neighbour’s letter box and shouting ‘the aliens have landed!’ Tatty bye Doddy. And thanks”.
The Archbishop of Canterbury wrote on Twitter: “Will miss Ken Dodd - he attended Liverpool Cathedral faithfully while I was Dean there. Always friendly, always wise, always funny. May he rest in peace and rise in glory.”
Sir Paul McCartney tweeted a picture of himself and the other Beatles together in the 1960s, along with the words: “Farewell to my fellow Liverpudlian the tattyfilarious Ken Dodd. Beloved by many people in Britain and a great champion of his home city and comedy. We met him on a few occasions as The Beatles and always ended up in tears of laughter. Today it’s tears of sadness as well. See you Doddy.”
‘Blackpool is my favourite’
“Blackpool is the greatest show town in the world.”
High praise indeed from resort favourite Sir Ken Dodd, back when he officially opened the Comedy Carpet in 2011.
And he reaffirmed his love for the resort when he celebrated 60 years in showbiz in 2014, having visited every year.
He said: “One of my first dates was in Blackpool, out of season – which was when all the landladies had flown out for the winter, and we were left to keep the place warm.
“There were eight taxi drivers, two stage door keepers, a dog and a cat.
“There must have been more people in the band than the audience.
“It’s wonderful to be touring still.
“Every day is a good day, and every theatre is wonderful to play, new ones as well as the old favourites like the Grand which is probably the most beautiful in the country and is a credit to the people who saved it and restored it.“Blackpool is my favourite town. It’s the showbiz temple of the UK – anybody who’s everybody has played Blackpool.
“The audience there is wonderful, people come along and want to laugh, so they are 50 per cent there already and I just have to deliver.
“Some of the happiest times of my life have been at the theatres here.”