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Following a short battle with a severe chest infection at Liverpool Heart and Chest hospital, Sir Ken Dodd has died aged 90. The city has lost a true gentleman who entertained millions throughout his 60 year career at the forefront of comedy and show business. Our Jay had the pleasure of meeting Sir Ken on a number of occasions and sat down to reminisce about his phenomenal career, ahead of his annual Christmas show at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall.
As the tributes flood in from famous faces around the world, for one of the UK’s most gifted and lovable comedians and showmen, we’ve got our own tribute to share with you.
Ken Dodd was always meant to be an entertainer, as a child he was a keen ventriloquist and performer and got his big break at the Nottingham Empire in 1954. He’s pretty much been on the road cracking jokes about the mother in law and people from Bootle ever since. Naturally funny, you couldn’t help but marvel at his quick wit and lightning quick delivery.
We’re not sure you’ll find a more proud scouser than Sir Ken. Born and bred in Knotty Ash, you’d find him back in his home town opening many a shopping centre, doctors surgery, church hall and chippy during his time. His ability to reel off all the big names the city has produced, he would talk about his beloved city to anyone that would listen. Living in the house he grew up in, there was no place better for Sir Ken.
Knotty Ash, a quiet little suburb of Liverpool with schools, churches, shops and homes, known around the globe thanks to Ken and his adoration for his city. Fully believing that there are Treacle and Jam Butty mines in the area, people around the world were fascinated by the mythical Diddy Men and their adventures with the great man himself. An active member of the Knotty Ash community throughout his 90 years, Sir Ken made regular visits to Knotty Ash Primary School and St John’s Church too.
We can all take a leaf out of Sir Ken’s book when it comes to graft. His work ethic is unrivalled, touring right into his 90th year and feeling genuinely down to have to cancel his last few shows due to illness. Having left school at 14 to join his dads’ coal round, he worked pretty much everyday thereafter. Sir Ken was at his happiest when spreading happiness to others proving it’s true what they say, find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life!
Chart success, number ones and NME awards came flooding in for Doddy during the 1960’s and while you might not believe it, his UK celebrity status matched that of The Beatles around this time. Sir Ken Dodd had the third biggest selling single of the 1960’s with ‘Tears’.
Sir Ken was awarded an Order of the Empire back in the 1982 New Year Honours for services to show business and charity and was knighted just a few weeks ago at Buckingham Palace by Prince William. The awards and accolades that Sir Ken has collected over the years, including fellow of Liverpool John Moores University, could easily fill a book, but seeing him up there in his finest morning suit and top hat at the age of 90, still cracking jokes at the palace was fantastic.
Did you know that Sir Ken played a number of Shakespearian characters and appeared in Dr Who as well as starring in his own successful tv show? He played Malvolio in ‘Twelfth Night’, ‘The Tollmaster’ in an 80’s episode of Dr Who and ‘Yorick’ in the film version of Hamlet in 1996. He also had a cameo voice acting credit in Dennis the Menace. Go check it out on YouTube, he’s brilliant.
In a 2005 poll, Sir Ken ranked number 36 in the ‘Top 50 Comedy Acts Ever’ and is revered among comedians young and old. His incredible career has been a topic on Mastermind, Peter Kaye is a huge fan and Monty Python Actor and Comedian, Eric Sykes once said “He’s a Chippendale in a room full of MFI”. Sir Ken reportedly owns a library of more than 20,000 books on comedy and related subjects, safe to say he lived and breathed comedy.
Remember to crack a smile as you pass Sir Ken Dodd’s Lime Street Station statue, immortalised with his beloved tickling sticks as he bids us all a tattifelarious onward journey.
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