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Friends pay tribute to inspirational comic Sir Ken Dodd

PUBLISHED: 15:11 12 March 2018 | UPDATED: 15:20 12 March 2018

Sir Ken Dodd performing at Norwich Theatre Royal in 1983. Picture: ARCHANT/JEEVES

Sir Ken Dodd performing at Norwich Theatre Royal in 1983. Picture: ARCHANT/JEEVES

ARCHANT/JEEVES

“There will be nobody like him ever again. He will never be equalled. When he came onto a stage he lit it up.”

Sir Ken Dodd performing at Norwich Theatre Royal in 1983 with his Diddy Men children. Picture: ARCHANT/JEEVESSir Ken Dodd performing at Norwich Theatre Royal in 1983 with his Diddy Men children. Picture: ARCHANT/JEEVES

That was one of the many personal tributes from friends, colleagues and entertainers of comedy legend Sir Ken Dodd.

The veteran entertainer, whose career started in 1954, died yesterday aged 90 in his Liverpool home.

Comedy entertainer Sir Ken Dodd performing before his London Palladium performance in 1990. Picture: THAMES TVComedy entertainer Sir Ken Dodd performing before his London Palladium performance in 1990. Picture: THAMES TV

Tributes from across Norfolk and Suffolk have praised the star as a “kind”, “thoughtful” and “fantastic fellow”.

During his touring career, which continued up until his death, he performed at Lowestoft’s Marina Theatre, Potters Resort at Hopton, Norwich Theatre Royal, King’s Lynn Corn Exchange, the Princess Theatre in Hunstanton, the former Carlton cinema in Norwich, and Cromer Pier’s Pavilion Theatre.

Comedy entertainer Sir Ken Dodd. Picture: ABC TVComedy entertainer Sir Ken Dodd. Picture: ABC TV

Friend and colleague Laurie Bellew, from Belaugh, who helped contribute to Sir Ken’s comedy for several decades, said: “He was a chief exponent of patter comedy. He didn’t do gags.

“If you saw Doddy you would never see the same thing twice. He was popular because he was nice. He would give audiences tremendous value for money.”

Sir Ken Dodd (left) with Norfolk entertainer Olly Day in 2013 at the Marina Theatre in Lowestoft. Picture: LAURIE BELLEWSir Ken Dodd (left) with Norfolk entertainer Olly Day in 2013 at the Marina Theatre in Lowestoft. Picture: LAURIE BELLEW

Sir Ken’s shows which featured magicians, his own songs, live orchestras and ad-lib humour, would famously last up to five hours.

He also toured with his Diddy Men and famous tickling stick.

Sir Ken Dodd (left) with his friend and musical director Nigel Hogg in the Blackpool Grand Theatre. Picture: EMMA JAMESSir Ken Dodd (left) with his friend and musical director Nigel Hogg in the Blackpool Grand Theatre. Picture: EMMA JAMES

“He was the best and funniest of all the comedians. He came onto a stage and exploded. It was never quiet when he walked on a stage.”

After performances he would speak with fans and sign autographs for several hours.

Variety entertainer Olly Day, 55, from Thorpe St Andrew, who is a regular on the Cromer Pier Christmas Show, was one of many entertainers who got advice from Sir Ken.

Mr Day said: “He was fantastic. People use the word legend but he was.”

He added watching Sir Ken was like a masterclass in how to control an audience, which crossed generations.

Photojournalist Maurice Gray, from Walcott, who interviewed Sir Ken, said: “He was a caring man. He was never going to give up. Retirement never came into the equation. He brought cheer and happiness to a lot of people.”

Inspiration and dear friend

A Cromer Pier show stalwart who worked closely with Sir Ken described him as a “dear friend and inspiration”.

Nigel Hogg, who worked as Sir Ken’s musical director for 15 years, said: “There will never be another comedian like him. He was the last of the great variety comedians.”

Mr Hogg, who has been the musical director of the Cromer Pier Summer Show for the past 14 years, added: “I’ll miss him. We had a great friendship. We were like family.”

He first worked with Sir Ken in 1981 in a Birmingham pantomime.

After a brief hiatus, Mr Hogg was asked to be musical director for Sir Ken for his show on the 2006 Royal Variety Performance.

Mr Hogg added: “He enjoyed coming to East Anglia. He loved going to the Lowestoft’s Marina Theatre. He supported theatres and wanted to keep them going... His fans meant a lot to him.”

A life full of laughter

All-round entertainer Sir Ken was master of tickling sticks, his Diddy Men and tattifilarious comedy.

Sir Ken reduced fans to helplessness with his bucktoothed grin, wild hair and a cry of “How tickled I am”.

He died in his Knotty Ash home, in Liverpool, where he was born and had lived in for the whole of his life.

The Theatre Royal, Nottingham, saw his £75-a-week debut in 1954 as Professor Chuckabutty.

This led on to tours around major theatres around Britain, including the London Palladium, and BBC television series.

In 1964 he released his first single, Happiness, followed by smash hit, Tears, the following year, and then Promises.

He was awarded an OBE in 1982 and was dubbed a knight by the Duke of Cambridge in 2017 in recognition of his comedic legacy and charity work.

He married his partner of 40 years, Anne Jones, two days before he died.

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