Plans submitted for £15m Ken Dodd Happiness Centre | ...including a giant tickling stick!

Plans submitted for £15m Ken Dodd Happiness Centre

...including a giant tickling stick!

A giant tickling stick could be erected in Liverpool if plans for a new museum dedicated to the legendary comic are approved.

Liverpool’s Royal Court Theatre has submitted plans for a £15million extension to house Sir Ken’s archive while also offering spaces for comedy-based workshops, talks and performances.

And the artists’ impressions for Ken Dodd Happiness Centre submitted by Stirling Prize winning architects Allford Hall Monaghan Morris show a giant tickling stick-type artwork outside.

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

Sir Ken’s widow, Lady Anne Dodd, said: ‘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.’

The four-storey building would become a permanent home to The Sir Ken Dodd archive and Happiness exhibition currently showing at National Museum Liverpool.

Those behind the scheme say it will also  ‘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.’

The centre will be built on the land next to Liverpool’s Royal Court, on the site currently occupied by Courtyard Bar & Kitchen and, once completed, the centre will house a new 100-seat restaurant. The theatre is very close to Lime Street Station, which already houses a lifesize bronze of Sir Ken.

Happiness Centre

Funding for the project is coming from several sources, primarily the Sir Ken Dodd Charitable Trust.

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.’

Dodd with tickling sticks

Also involved is the The Comedy Trust – the charity behind the Liverpool Comedy Festival whose aim is ‘to help create happier, healthier people and communities through the use of comedy, laughter and humour’.

Its chief executive, comedian Sam Avery, 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.’

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Published: 7 Dec 2023

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