Tributes are pouring in for Blackpool favourite, Ken Dodd who has died at the age of 90.
The stalwart of Blackpool theatres, is thought to have made around 2,000 appearances in the resort during summer season shows which have spanned more than half a century.
Ken Dodd first trod the boards at the old Queen’s Theatre in October, 1954, and appeared at the Grand Theatre in November 2017 as part of the Sunday concerts. A Blackpool theatrical career spanning 63 years.
After his appearance in 1954 as a supporting act at the Queen’s (where the TK Maxx store now stands), Doddy was in the 1955 summer season at the Central Pier.
Doddy made such an impression that producer Peter Webster booked him to return for the 1956 season, when the star act was Jimmy James and Company.
Ken’s other 1950s Blackpool seasons were in 1957 at the old Hippodrome - as joint top with Stan Stennet and Jill Day - and back at the Central Pier as bill-topper with singer Josef Locke as guest star in 1958.
The comedian starred in six summer season shows at the Opera House (1962, 64, 66, 68, 71 and 81, and in several Sunday concerts each year from 1970 to 2017 at the Opera House and the Grand.
Ruth Eastwood CEO Blackpool Grand 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.
Amanda Thompson, Pleasure Beach boss said: "So sad to hear the news of Ken Dodd passing away.
"The greatest friend to us all. What an icon to the 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."
Actor John Challis, who played Boycie in comedy television series Only Fools and Horses, was one of the first to pay tribute following the news of Sir Ken Dodd's death.
He tweeted: "So sorry to hear we have lost Ken Dodd.I met him once and I've never forgotten it.Gawd bless 'im."
Fellow Liverpudlian Claire Sweeney described Sir Ken as a "legend and an inspiration".
The television personality shared some photos of the comedian's 90th birthday party on Twitter, saying: "RIP Sir Ken Dodd. A legend and an inspiration. I have a lot to thank You for. I Was thrilled you had the best birthday party in Liverpool before you left us. Your city, friends,Family and Show business will miss you terribly."
Dara O Briain said he was "so happy" he had had the chance to meet Sir Ken.
The Irish comedian, known for hosting panel shows such as Mock the Week, said on Twitter: "Ah, Ken Dodd has died. So happy I got to meet him once, and more importantly, saw him do one of his incredible 5 hour shows. He was an education to watch and, afterwards, at 1.30 am, he had beers with me in the dressing room and talked showbiz. A privilege, and a loss. RIP."
Comedian Gary Delaney made reference to Sir Ken's long stand-up shows as he paid tribute on Twitter.
He wrote: "RIP Sir Ken Dodd. One of the all time greats. The funeral will be held on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and most of Saturday."