Ken Dodd exhibition extends | Four more months at Museum of Liverpool

Ken Dodd exhibition extends

Four more months at Museum of Liverpool

The Liverpool exhibition dedicated to Sir Ken Dodd has been extended for four more months.

Happiness!, which opened  in September, had been due to close in March but will now run at the Museum of Liverpool until  July 7.

The comedian’s widow, Anne, worked with curators on the show, having defied her husband’s wishes that the 1,000 notebooks he kept filled with  jokes, observations on each audience he played and philosophy of comedy.

Ken and Lady Dodd

Lady Dodd said: ‘When you are so closely involved with the development of an exhibition as I have been over the last few years, it is difficult to be objective about how others will see it… I wasn’t sure what others would think. 

‘However, it has been so wonderful to stand in the museum and hear visitors rocking with laughter and sharing some of Ken’s favourite jokes with each other. 

‘It’s been a delight to read their memories of Ken in the visitor’s book and discover their first-hand stories about seeing him at some of the many theatres we visited around the country on Ken’s Giggle Map. 

‘It was a difficult decision to include some pages of Ken’s private notebooks, but the overwhelmingly positive response has reassured me that Ken’s hard-earned experience in the entertainment industry is one that many want to hear and read about.’

Ken’s marathon shows were legendary. 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), set at Liverpool’s Royal Court Theatre in 1974.

Les Dennis, another Liverpool-born comic, recently visited the exhibition and said: Apart from pantomime, my first theatrical memory was seeing The Ken Dodd Laughter Show at the Royal Court Theatre in the early 60s. 

‘The gales of laughter from the audience as they watched Doddy in action were intoxicating and I was immediately hooked. I knew there and then that a life in showbusiness was what I wanted to pursue.  

Les_Dennis at the Dodd exhibition

‘Walking round the amazing Doddy exhibition brought back all the wonderful memories I have of the extraordinary career of one of the true greats of live theatre and comedy. If you haven’t yet visited, treat yourself and go. How tickled you’ll be and you’ll come out saying "By Jove, I needed that!"’

Happiness! has been billed as the first major exhibition on a comedian in a national museum – although London’s V&A put several items from Tommy Cooper’s personal archive on display in 2016.

Curator Karen O’Rourke said the response was ‘overwhelming and really reflects the love people have for Doddy’.

She added: ‘Of course, he’s well known and much-loved in Liverpool, but it’s been wonderful to also welcome visitors who have made the journey from all corners of the UK just to see the exhibition.

‘We expected plenty of laughter, but it’s also been very moving to hear such touching memories of Ken, what he meant to people and how fondly they remember him.’

Highlights of the exhibition inlcude Dicky Mint, below, the ventriloquist puppet he performed with, tickling sticks and his ‘Huury Furry Moggy’ coat,

Dicky Mint

In Moggy Coat

It also features interviews with stars  such as Lee Mack, Miriam Margolyes, Sir Ian McKellen and Paul O’Grady paying homage to the influence Dodd had.

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Published: 22 Jan 2024

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