Sir Kenneth Arthur Dodd OBE (8 November 1927 – 11 March 2018) was an English comedian, singer and occasional actor. He was described as "the last great music hall entertainer", and was primarily known for his live stand-up performances.
Dodd in 2007 with his "tickling sticks"
|Born||Kenneth Arthur Dodd
8 November 1927
Knotty Ash, Liverpool, England
|Died||11 March 2018
Knotty Ash, Liverpool, England
|Spouse(s)||Anne Jones (m. 2018)|
|Medium||Stand-up comedy, theatre, radio, television and music|
A lifelong resident of Knotty Ash in Liverpool, Dodd's career as an entertainer started in the mid-1950s. His performances included rapid and incessant delivery of often surreal jokes, and would run for several hours, frequently past midnight. His verbal and physical comedy was supplemented by his red, white and blue "tickling stick" prop, and often introduced by his characteristic upbeat greeting of "How tickled I am!" He interspersed the comedy with songs, both serious and humorous, and with his original speciality, ventriloquism. He also had several hit singles primarily as a ballad singer in the 1960s, and occasionally appeared in dramatic roles. He performed on radio and television, and popularised the characters of the Diddy Men.
He was knighted in the 2017 New Year Honours for services to entertainment and charity. His stage career lasted for over 60 years, and he continued to perform, when his health permitted, until his death at the age of 90.
Kenneth Arthur Dodd was born on 8 November 1927 in a former farmhouse in Knotty Ash, a suburb of Liverpool, to Arthur Dodd and Sarah (née Gray); where his parents lived. He had an older brother, William and a younger sister, June. He went to the Knotty Ash School, and sang in the local church choir of St John's Church, Knotty Ash. He was to live in Knotty Ash all his life, dying in the house in which he was born, and often referred to the area—as well as its mythical "jam butty mines" and "black pudding plantations"—in his act.
He then attended Holt High School, a grammar school in Childwall, Liverpool, but left at the age of 14 to work for his father, a coal merchant. Around this time he became interested in show business after seeing an advert in a comic: "Fool your teachers, amaze your friends—send 6d in stamps and become a ventriloquist!" and sending off for the book. Not long after, his father bought him a ventriloquist's dummy and Ken called it Charlie Brown. He started entertaining at the local orphanage, then at various other local community functions. His distinctive bucked teeth were the result of a cycling accident after a group of school friends dared him to ride a bicycle with his eyes closed. Aged 18, he began working as a travelling salesman, and used his work van to travel to comedy clubs in the evenings.
He gained his big break at age 26 when, in September 1954, he made his professional show-business debut as Professor Yaffle Chucklebutty, Operatic Tenor and Sausage Knotter at the Nottingham Empire. He later said, "Well at least they didn't boo me off". He continued to tour variety theatres up and down the UK, and in 1955 he appeared at Blackpool, where, in the following year, he had a part in Let's Have Fun. His performance at the Central Pier was part of a comedy revue with Jimmy James and Company. Also on the same bill were Jimmy Clitheroe and Roy Castle. Dodd first gained top billing at Blackpool in 1958.
Dodd was described as "the last great music hall entertainer". His stand-up comedy style was fast and relied on the rapid delivery of one-liner jokes. He said that his comic influences included other Liverpool comedians like Arthur Askey, Robb Wilton, Tommy Handley and the "cheeky chappy" from Brighton, Max Miller. He interspersed the comedy with occasional songs, both serious and humorous, in an incongruously fine light baritone voice, and with his original speciality, ventriloquism. Part of his stage act featured the Diddy Men ("diddy" being local slang for "small"). At first an unseen joke conceived as part of Dodd's imagination, they later appeared on stage, usually played by children.
Dodd worked mainly as a solo comedian, including in a number of eponymous television and radio shows and made several appearances on BBC TV's music hall revival show, The Good Old Days. Although he enjoyed making people laugh, he was also a serious student of comedy and history, and was interested in Sigmund Freud and Henri Bergson's analysis of humour. Occasionally, he appeared in dramatic roles, including Malvolio in William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night on stage in Liverpool in 1971; on television in the cameo role of 'The Tollmaster' in the 1987 Doctor Who story Delta and the Bannermen; as Yorick (in silent flashback) in Kenneth Branagh's film version of Shakespeare's Hamlet in 1996; and as Mr. Mouse in the 1999 television movie adaptation of Alice in Wonderland.
Dodd was renowned for the length of his performances, and during the 1960s he earned a place in the Guinness Book of Records for the world's longest ever joke-telling session: 1,500 jokes in three-and-a-half hours (7.14 jokes per minute), undertaken at the Royal Court Theatre, Liverpool, where audiences entered the show in shifts.
Dodd toured frequently throughout his professional career, performing lengthy shows into his eighties, that often did not finish until after midnight. In his final year, he continued to tour the UK extensively, with his comedy, music and variety show. His final performance was on 28 December 2017 at the Echo Arena Auditorium in Liverpool. He said the secret of his success was simply, "I love what I do".
Dodd had many hit records, charting on 18 occasions in the UK Top 40, including his first single "Love Is Like a Violin" (1960), produced on Decca Records by Alex Wharton, which charted at number 8 (UK). His version of Bill Anderson's song "Happiness" charted in 1964 and became Dodd's signature song.
Dodd's recording of "Tears" on the Columbia label topped the UK singles chart for five weeks in 1965, becoming the biggest hit single in Britain that year and selling over a million copies in the UK alone. The recording is the third best selling song of the 1960s in Britain; at the time it was the UK's biggest selling single by a solo artist, and remains one of the biggest selling singles of all time. Dodd was selected to perform the song on A Jubilee of Music on BBC One on 31 December 1976, a celebration of the key pop successes of the Queen's first 25 years as Britain's monarch.
Dodd had two further UK top ten records: "The River (Le Colline Sono In Fioro)", written by Renato Angiolini with lyrics by Mort Shuman (number 3, 1965); and "Promises", written by Norman Newell and Tom Springfield (number 6, 1966). As well as his successful chart career as a ballad singer, Dodd occasionally released comedy novelty records, including the 1965 EP Doddy and the Diddy Men, featuring the song "Where's Me Shirt?" which Dodd co-wrote.
Tax evasion court caseEdit
In 1989, Dodd was charged with tax evasion. The subsequent trial, with the prosecution case led by Brian Leveson QC, produced several revelations. The Diddy Men, who had appeared in his stage act, were often played by local children from stage schools, and were revealed never to have been paid. Dodd was also revealed to have very little money in his bank account, having £336,000 in cash stashed in suitcases in his attic. When asked by the judge, "What does £100,000 in a suitcase feel like?", Dodd replied, "The notes are very light, M'Lord." He also said: "I am not mean, but I am nervous of money, nervous of having it, nervous of not having it" and described money as "important only because I have nothing else".
Dodd was represented by George Carman QC, who in court famously quipped, "Some accountants are comedians, but comedians are never accountants". He described Dodd as "a fantasist stamped with lifelong eccentricities." The trial lasted three weeks; Dodd was acquitted.
Despite the strain of the trial, Dodd immediately capitalised on his new-found notoriety with a successful season running from Easter to Christmas 1990 at the London Palladium. It was there he had previously broken the house record for the longest comedy season at the theatre, in 1965, with a residency lasting 42 weeks. Some of his subsequent material mocked the trial and tax in general. For a while, he introduced his act with the words, "Good evening, my name is Kenneth Arthur Dodd; singer, photographic playboy and failed accountant!" Another memorable gag in regards to the matter was Dodd saying that when income tax was introduced it was a mere 2p in every £1 earned, followed by the punchline "I thought it still was!" 
He was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 1982 New Year Honours for services to show business and charity and was knighted in the 2017 New Year Honours for services to entertainment and charity. The award was formally conferred by Prince William, Duke of Cambridge in a ceremony at Buckingham Palace on 2 March 2017.
In 1993 Dodd won Top Variety Entertainer and was also awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award at ITV's British Comedy Awards. In 1994, Dodd appeared in the TV special An Audience with Ken Dodd. The show was a success and introduced him to a younger audience. Dodd later became one of a select few to be given a second show, entitled Another Audience with Ken Dodd and originally broadcast in 2002.
In a 2005 poll of comedians and comedy insiders to find the 'Comedians' Comedian', Dodd was voted amongst the 'Top 50 Comedy Acts Ever', ranked as number 36. He was made an honorary fellow of Liverpool John Moores University in 1997. A statue depicting Dodd with his trademark "Tickling Stick" was unveiled in Liverpool Lime Street railway station in June 2009. It was temporarily removed in 2017 for renovation works.
Dodd was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters from the University of Chester at a graduation ceremony in 2009 in Chester Cathedral. He was awarded a Doctorate of Letters at Liverpool Hope University in 2010 during the university's Foundation Day celebrations.
In 2016, Dodd was awarded the Aardman Slapstick Comedy Legend Award, a recognition of his lifetime's contribution to the world of comedy. He received the award as part of the Slapstick Festival in Bristol.
In 1955, Dodd began a 22-year relationship with Anita Boutin; they were engaged at the time of her death from a brain tumour in 1977, at the age of 45. Shortly after her death, Dodd began a relationship with Anne Jones, which lasted from 1978 until his death. They first met in 1961 when Jones appeared in The Ken Dodd Christmas Show at the Manchester Opera House. Dodd married Jones on 9 March 2018, two days before his death.
Dodd said that one of his biggest regrets in life was that he never had children. It was widely reported that he and Anne were unable to conceive naturally. During his 1989 trial details of his personal life surfaced in the media, including revelations that he and Anne had undergone several failed rounds of IVF treatment in an attempt to start a family.
In October 2001, a stalker, Ruth Tagg, harassed Dodd and Jones by sending them threatening letters and a dead rat, also appearing on the front row at almost all of his live shows during this time. She also attempted to burn down their house by pushing burning rags through the letterbox causing £11,000 worth of damage to the ground floor. Tagg pleaded guilty to harassment and arson at Preston Crown Court in 2003.
Dodd died on 11 March 2018 at his home in Knotty Ash, the same home in which he was born and raised, aged 90 after recently being hospitalised for six weeks with a chest infection. He had been touring with his stand-up stage show until 2017. Numerous stars paid tribute, including fellow Liverpudlian Paul McCartney. At his funeral on 28 March, which was led by the Bishop of Liverpool, Paul Bayes, several fans joined the cortege which passed from his Knotty Ash home to Liverpool Cathedral. The service was attended by actors Ricky Tomlinson, Stephanie Cole and Miriam Margolyes, comedians Jimmy Tarbuck, Stan Boardman and Jimmy Cricket and television executive Michael Grade. After the service, Dodd was laid to rest, alongside his mother and father, during a private burial service at Allerton Cemetery in Liverpool. Tickling sticks were placed on various statues around Liverpool in commemoration. At Liverpool Town Hall, St George's Hall, the Cunard Building and Liverpool Central Library, flags were lowered to pay respect.
Ken Dodd had numerous television shows and specials over 60 years, including:
- The Ken Dodd Show (1959–1969)
- Doddy's Music Box (1967–1968)
- Ken Dodd and the Diddymen (1969–1972)
- The Ken Dodd Show – LWT (1969)
- Ken Dodd in Funny You Should Say That (1972)
- Ken Dodd says Stand By Your Beds
- Ken Dodd's World of Laughter – 3 series, 19 episodes (1974)
- The Ken Dodd New Year's Eve Special (1975)
- The Ken Dodd Show (1978)
- The Ken Dodd Laughter Show (1979)
- Dodd on his Todd (1981)
- Doddy! (1982)
- Ken Dodd's Showbiz – 6 episodes (1982)
- Ken Dodd at the London Palladium (1990)
- An Audience with Ken Dodd (1994)
- Another Audience with Ken Dodd (2002)
- Ken Dodd's Happiness (2007)
- Talking Comedy (2016)
- Ken Dodd: In His Own Words (2017)
Other television workEdit
Dodd also appeared in many other programmes, as an actor, performer, or as himself. Appearances include:
- The Good Old Days – 15 episodes (1955–1982)
- Doctor Who (1987)
- A Question of Entertainment – 18 episodes (1988)
- Hamlet (1996)
- Heroes of Comedy (1995–2001) About himself and other comics
- Dawn French's Boys Who Do Comedy (2007)
- My Favourite Joke – 4 episodes (2011)
- The Story of Variety with Michael Grade – 2 episodes (2011)
- Fern Britton Meets... (2013)
UK chart singlesEdit
|Title||Release date||Chart position
|"Love Is Like a Violin"||7 July 1960||8|
|"Once in Every Lifetime"||15 June 1961||28|
|"Pianissimo"||1 February 1962||21|
|"Still"||29 August 1963||35|
|"Eight by Ten"||6 February 1964||22|
|"Happiness"||23 July 1964||31|
|"So Deep Is the Night"||26 November 1964||31|
|"Tears"||2 September 1965||1||Sold over 1.5 million copies;
39th best-selling single of all time in the UK
|"The River (Le colline sono in fiore)"||18 November 1965||3||with Geoff Love and his Orchestra|
|"Promises"||12 May 1966||6|
|"More Than Love"||4 August 1966||14|
|"It's Love"||27 October 1966||36|
|"Let Me Cry on Your Shoulder"||19 January 1967||11|
|"Tears Won't Wash Away These Heartaches"||30 July 1969||22|
|"Brokenhearted"||5 December 1970||15|
|"When Love Comes Round Again (L'arca di Noè)"||10 July 1971||19|
|"Just Out of Reach (Of My Two Empty Arms)"||18 November 1972||29|
|"Think of Me (Wherever You Are)"||29 November 1975||21|
|"Hold My Hand"||26 December 1981||44|
- Duncan, Amy (12 March 2018). "Sir Ken Dodd age, jokes, Diddy Men, wife Anne Jones and house in Knotty Ash". Metro UK.
- Bale, Bernard (22 November 2017). "Sir Ken Dodd at 90". Evergreen. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
- "Where is Knotty Ash – the location of Ken Dodd's house for 90 years". Metro. 12 March 2018. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
- Cook, William (12 March 2018). "Ken Dodd: a comic genius who inspired true devotion". Spectator Life.
- "The Ken Dodd Story". Retrieved 20 November 2007.
- "Sir Ken Dodd: the 12 funny moments that defined his rib-tickling career". The Daily Telegraph. 12 March 2018. Retrieved 12 March 2018.(subscription required)
- "Obituary: Liverpool comedian Ken Dodd". The Stage. 12 March 2018. Retrieved 13 March 2018.
- "Ken Dodd: Twenty things you never knew". BBC Online. 6 July 2005. Archived from the original on 28 December 2007.
- "Obituary: Ken Dodd". BBC News. 12 March 2018. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
- Theatre Programme, Central Pier, Blackpool, 1956. Cyril Critchlow Collection, Blackpool Central Library, Vol. 38 p. 12.
- "Looking back at Ken Dodd's love of Blackpool". Blackpool Gazette. 12 March 2018. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
- "Arise, Sir Ken". The Daily Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group. 31 December 2016. Retrieved 9 January 2017.
- "The men who tickled me..." Chortle.co.uk. 2 April 2008. Retrieved 2 April 2008.
- "Ken Dodd". chortle.co.uk. Chortle. Retrieved 9 January 2017.
- "Who were Ken Dodd's Diddy Men". Metro. 12 March 2018. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
- "The Good Old Days". BBC. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
- "BBC Radio 2 – Ken Dodd: How Tickled I've Been". BBC. 1 January 2013. Retrieved 25 July 2014.
- "Dedication's what you need: top 10 record-breaking comedians". The Guardian. 22 July 2010. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
- "Jonathan Ross hosts Royal Variety Performance". BBC Press Office. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
- Rawlinson, Kevin; Perraudin, Frances (12 March 2018). "Sir Ken Dodd, legend of comedy, dies aged 90". the Guardian. Retrieved 7 April 2018.
- Cavendish, Dominic (12 March 2018). "Ken Dodd on the art of making people happy: 'My secret? I love what I do'". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 13 March 2018.
- "Ken Dodd Happiness Show", BBC Hereford & Worcester, 2006. Retrieved 12 March 2018
- Betts, Graham (2004). Complete UK Hit Singles 1952–2004 (1st ed.). London: Collins. p. 228. ISBN 0-00-717931-6.
- "Ken Dodd: outsold only by The Beatles". The Daily Telegraph. 1 June 2010. Retrieved 12 March 2018 – via www.telegraph.co.uk.
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 170. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- "Doddy and the Diddy Men", 45cat.com. Retrieved 12 March 2018
- Anglesey, Natalie (1 February 2007). "Dodd's Bolton bonus". Manchester Evening News.
- "Obituary: Sir Ken Dodd tickled audiences pink for decades". Independent.ie. 13 March 2018. Retrieved 13 March 2018.
- "George Carman: The Bar's 'silver fox'". BBC News. 2 January 2001.
- Nevin, Charles (23 October 2004). "Tickling shtick". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 7 May 2010.
- "No. 61803". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 2016. p. N2.
- "Sir Ken Dodd 'tickled' by knighthood". BBC Online. 2 March 2017. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
- Guide, British Comedy. "The British Comedy Awards British Comedy Awards 1993 - British Comedy Guide". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 15 March 2018.
- Another Audience With Ken Dodd (Media notes). Universal. ASIN B00007DWN9.
- "A lifetime in showbusiness", Museum of Liverpool. Retrieved 13 March 2018
- "A tribute to Liverpool's Comedy Legend, Sir Ken Dodd". The Guide, Liverpool. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
- "Why Ken Dodd and Bessie Braddock statues have disappeared from Liverpool Lime Street Station". Liverpool Echo. 23 October 2017. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
- Pathé, British. "Water Rats Fete Duke".
- "Ken Dodd tickled pink to receive Honorary Degree". University of Chester. 11 November 2009. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
- "Honorary Liverpool Hope University degrees for Ken Dodd and Rolf Harris". Liverpool Echo. 14 January 2010. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
- "Ken Dodd receives Slapstick Comedy Legend award". British Comedy News. 26 January 2016. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
- "Sir Ken Dodd's widow shares her heartbreak - and how her husband is comforting her even after death". The Mirror. 17 March 2018.
- "Sir Ken Dodd dies at 90: Comedy world pays tribute to 'one of all-time greats'". The Daily Telegraph. London. 12 March 2018. Retrieved 14 March 2018.
- "Sir Ken Dodd: Comedy legend dies, aged 90". BBC Online. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
- [metro.co.uk/2018/03/28/ken-dodds-wife-anne-jones-children-said-7422708/ metro.co.uk/2018/03/28/ken-dodds-wife-anne-jones-children-said-7422708/] Check
|url=value (help). Missing or empty
- https://www.express.co.uk/celebrity-news/930428/Ken-Dodd-dead-partner-Anne-Jones-wife-married-news-cause-of-death-how-did-die-Sir. Missing or empty
- "Stalker set fire to Dodd's home". BBC News. 4 March 2003.
- "Comedy legend Sir Ken Dodd dies, aged 90". BBC News. BBC. 12 March 2018. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
- "Ken Dodd was 'life-enhancing and brilliant' – tributes paid to the comedian". BBC News. 12 March 2018. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
- "Sir Ken Dodd: Fans turn out for comedian's Liverpool funeral". BBC News. 28 March 2018. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
- "BBC – Comedy Guide – The Ken Dodd Show". 24 October 2004.
- "TV Pop Diaries Doddy's Music Box". www.tvpopdiaries.co.uk.
- "Doddy's Music Box – Nostalgia Central". nostalgiacentral.com.
- "Ken Dodd & The Diddymen – Nostalgia Central". nostalgiacentral.com.
- "BBC – Comedy Guide – Ken Dodd And The Diddymen". 13 September 2004.
- "BBC – Comedy Guide – The Ken Dodd Show". 25 September 2004.
- "Funny You Should Say That – Nostalgia Central". nostalgiacentral.com.
- "Ken Dodd in "Funny You Should Say That" (1972)".
- "BBC – Comedy Guide – Ken Dodd Says 'Stand By Your Beds!'". 22 January 2005.
- "Ken Dodd's World Of Laughter – BBC1 Stand-Up". British Comedy Guide.
- "The Ken Dodd Show (1978)".
- "BBC – Comedy Guide – Dodd On His Todd". 26 October 2004.
- "Ken Dodd's Showbiz – BBC1 Stand-Up". British Comedy Guide.
- "ITV Studios – An Audience With Ken Dodd". itvstudios.com.
- "ITV Studios – Another Audience with Ken Dodd". itvstudios.com.
- "Ken Dodd's Happiness, Arena – BBC Four". BBC.
- "Talking Comedy – BBC2 Chat Show". British Comedy Guide.
- "Ken Dodd...In His Own Words – Ken Dodd: My Life – In His Own Words". Radio Times.
- "Obituary: Sir Ken Dodd – BBC News". Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
- "Ken Dodd 1927–2018". Doctor Who News. 8 November 1927. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
- "A Question of Entertainment[26/06/88] (1988)".
- "Heroes Of Comedy Series 4, Episode 2 – The Living Legends: Ken Dodd – British Comedy Guide". Comedy.co.uk. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
- Ben Williams (1 January 1970). "Ken Dodd, the man from Mirthy-side: a career in clips and 10 of his best jokes". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
- Amol Rajan (1 March 2011). "Last Night's TV – The Story of Variety with Michael Grade, BBC4; When Teenage Meets Old Age, BBC2". The Independent. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
- "Fern Britton Meets... Ken Dodd – Media Centre". BBC. 1 January 1970. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
- "The Ken Dodd Show – Radio 2 Sketch Show – British Comedy Guide". British Comedy Guide.
- "The Ken Dodd Show – Radio 2 Stand-Up – British Comedy Guide". British Comedy Guide.
- "The Ken Dodd Show – Radio 2 Comedy – British Comedy Guide". British Comedy Guide.
- "Ken Dodd's Palace Of Laughter - British Classic Comedy". 6 March 2011.
- "Ken Dodd: How Tickled I've Been – Radio 4 Documentary – British Comedy Guide". British Comedy Guide.
- "Ken Dodd". The Official Charts. The Official UK Charts Co. c. 2010. Retrieved 24 June 2010.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ken Dodd.|
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Ken Dodd|