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Liverpool’s Royal Court unveil plans for The Sir Ken Dodd Happiness Centre

3 months ago

By The Guide Liverpool

Liverpool’s Royal Court unveil plans for The Sir Ken Dodd Happiness Centre
Plans for The Sir Ken Dodd Happiness Centre. Credit: Royal Court Liverpool

A new permanent home for Sir Ken Dodd’s archive to celebrate the life and career of Liverpool’s most famous comedian could open in Liverpool, as plans are revealed for The Sir Ken Dodd Happiness Centre. 

Liverpool’s Royal Court have unveiled the plans for The Sir Ken Dodd Happiness Centre.

Working with The Comedy Trust and The Sir Ken Dodd Charitable Foundation, they have submitted plans for the brand new £15m building dedicated to Liverpool’s rich comedy heritage to Liverpool City Council.

If approved, building work could begin in 2025 with the doors set to open in 2026. 

The four-storey building would become a permanent home to The Sir Ken Dodd archive and Happiness exhibition currently showing at National Museum Liverpool, and will celebrate the life and career of Sir Ken Dodd, while also offering spaces for comedy-based workshops, talks and performances.

The centre will be operated by Liverpool’s Royal Court as an extension of the Royal Court Theatre.

The Happiness Centre will celebrate all forms of comedy and humour and provide opportunities for all to take part in a wide range of programmes, workshops and sessions with comedy, humour, health and wellbeing at their heart. 

Through the lens of Doddy, Liverpool’s most famous entertainer, The Sir Ken Dodd Happiness Centre will highlight and explore Liverpool humour and the role the city played in becoming a cradle of entertainment for countless comedians. The centre will also explore how comedy and humour defines Liverpudlians, why the city is known world-wide for its wit and humour and how we can use laughter and humour to make us feel better and improve wellbeing.

Plans for The Sir Ken Dodd Happiness Centre. Credit: Royal Court Liverpool
Plans for The Sir Ken Dodd Happiness Centre. Credit: Royal Court Liverpool

The centre will be built on the land adjacent to Liverpool’s Royal Court, on the site currently occupied by Courtyard Bar & Kitchen. While construction takes place Courtyard will relocate and, once completed, the centre will house a new 100-seat restaurant.

The £15m project will be designed by Stirling Prize winning architects Allford Hall Monaghan Morris (AHMM), who were also behind the extensive refurbishment of Liverpool’s Royal Court. Funding for the project is coming from a number of sources, primarily the Sir Ken Dodd Charitable Trust.

As well as being a home for comedy in the city, the building will join on to the theatre, creating new dressing rooms and office space that will allow the staging of larger and more ambitious works in the future.

Gillian Miller, Chief Executive of Liverpool’s Royal Court said:

“Liverpool is renowned all around the world for the wit and humour of its people. It is about time that the city had a building dedicated to celebrating that fact. Sir Ken was Liverpool’s best-loved entertainer and one of the UK’s greatest ever comedians. He was a chart-topping singer, talented actor and accomplished ventriloquist, but his true passion was his natural gift for making us all laugh. We are delighted to be working with the Sir Ken Dodd Charitable Foundation on this project that will form a part of such an important legacy.”

Sam Avery, Chief Executive of The Comedy Trust said:

“The building will epitomise the late Sir Ken Dodd’s belief that comedy and humour are essential ingredients for life, creating happier, healthier people. We are advocates of the power of humour for positive mental wellbeing, and are always exploring the evolving relationship between humour and health, as well as developing creativity, confidence and communication skills. This new centre will help us to reach more people from all around the region.”

Lady Anne Dodd is delighted that the project is taking place:

“I couldn’t be happier to support the building of a Sir Ken Dodd Happiness Centre. It was his lifelong dream to build a place where Comedy is taken seriously, and he would be delighted to know that he was part of a building in the centre of Liverpool that leaves every visitor with a smile on their face.”

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