Ken Dodd

Ken Dodd

Date of birth: 08-11-1927

Dodd started his career as a ventriloquist - and indeed still uses the Dicky Mint dummy in his act.

However, his success came through his exaggerated on-stage persona - the manic hairstyle, protruding teeth and, of course, trademark tickling stick - combined with a relentless stream of one-liners, peppered with nonsense words like 'tattifilarious', that can - and do - entertain audiences for hours.

He built his reputation as a live performer on the variety stage, and famously logs audience reactions to jokes every night, building up a picture of what plays well where.

His career was boosted with appearances on TV, often just guest roles, but his bizarre appearance would always stick in the mind. He also has a penchant for sickly ballads, as well as his signature tune Happiness, recording several albums of love songs and notching up 19 top 40 hits, including the 1965 chart-topper Tears.

Dodd became embroiled in a tax-dodging case in the Eighties, and was eventually cleared, but the case revealed much about Dodd's eccentric private life, too.

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© David A Ellis / Creative Commons 3.0

How tickled he'd be! Ken Dodd's gags could be back on the stage

Tribute show in the pipeline

Ken Dodd’s life could be made into a West End show.

Producer Michael Harrison, who stages pantomimes at the London Palladium, has bought the rights to all the comedian’s material.

He told the Daily Mail’s Baz Bamigboye that the deal with Dodd’s widow, Anne, included 'everything written down, filmed and recorded ... even witticisms scribbled on scraps of paper’.

However the project is still in its very early stages, with not even a playwright attached yet.

With any show two to three years away, the producer said the writer who is signed up would first meet with Lady Anne at her Knotty Ash home to 'comb through the barrels full of laughs’ to create the script.

But ‘the key is going to be: how do you cast a genius?' he mused.

Harrison’s other production credits include Joseph And His Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Singing In The Rain and Oklahoma!

Dodd died at the age of 90 in 2018, leaving copious notes of all the gigs he performed over his career, including which jokes went down best in which towns.

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Published: 11 Feb 2022

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