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Dr Kenneth Arthur Dodd OBE (born 8 November 1927) is an English comedian and singer songwriter, famous for his buck teeth, frizzy hair, feather duster (or "tickling stick"), and his catchphrases, often playing on the 'tickled' motif, ex: "How tickled I am!". He works mainly in the music hall tradition, although, in the past, has occasionally appeared in drama, including as Malvolio in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night on stage in Liverpoolmarker in 1971; on television in the cameo role of 'The Tollmaster' in the 1987 Doctor Who story Delta and the Bannermen; and as Yorick (in silent flashback) in Kenneth Branagh's film version of Shakespeare's Hamlet in 1996. In total he has sold more than 100 million records worldwide.

Style career and achievement

Dodd's stand-up comedy style is fast and furious, relying on the rapid delivery of a huge number of one-liner jokes. He has claimed that his comic influences include other Liverpool comedians like Arthur Askey, Robb Wilton, and Tommy Handley. He intersperses the comedy with occasional songs, both serious and humorous, in an incongruously fine light baritone voice.

Dodd has had many recording hits, charting on nineteen 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), and his song "Tears", which topped the UK charts for five weeks in 1965, selling over a million copies. This remains one of the UK's biggest selling singles of all time.

Dodd is renowned for the length of his shows, 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 a Liverpool theatre, where audiences were observed to enter the show in shifts. More recently, Ken Dodd appeared at the Royal Variety Performance in 2006 in front of Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, where he reprised some of his famous jokes, including those about tax accountants as well as singing his famous song "Happiness".

He is slated to make an appearance in BBC's Eastenders as a former landlord of the Queen Vic returning to collect some hidden money.

Early life

Ken Dodd was born on 8 November 1927 in Knotty Ashmarker, Liverpool, the son of a coal merchant, Arthur Dodd and wife Sarah. He went to the Knotty Ash School, and sang in the local church choir of St Johns Church, Knotty Ash. At the age of seven, he was dared by his school friends to ride his bike with his eyes shut...and he did, for about ten feet, and the bicycle hit the kerb. Ken went flying open-mouthed on to the tarmac, resulting in his famous teeth of today.

He then attended Holt High, a Grammar School in Childwallmarker, but left at age fourteen to work for his father. Around this time he became interested in showbusiness after seeing an advert in a comic entitled; "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.

He got his big break at age twenty-six when, in September 1954, when he made his professional showbusiness début at the now-demolished Nottingham Empire. A nervous young man, he sat in a local Milk Bar for most of the afternoon going over and over his lines before going to the theatre. Although he cannot remember much of the actual act of that night, he did recall, "Well at least they didn't boo me off"; but there was not much fear of that, as Dodd's act went from strength to strength, eventually topping the bill at Blackpoolmarker in 1958.

Tax evasion court case

In 1989 Dodd was charged with tax evasion. The subsequent trial led to several revelations. This included details about the Diddy Men, who had appeared in his stage act, often played by local children from stage schools, who 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 a hundred thousand pounds in a suitcase feel like?", Dodd made his now famous reply, "The notes are very light, M'Lord."

Dodd was represented by George Carman, who in court famously quipped, "Some accountants are comedians, but comedians are never accountants". The trial lasted three weeks: Dodd was acquitted.

Despite the strain of the trial, Dodd immediately capitalized on his new-found notoriety with a successful season running from Easter to Christmas 1990 at the London Palladiummarker. It was there he had previously broken the house record for the longest comedy season at the theatre, in 1965, with a residency lasting forty-two weeks. Some of his current material mocks 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!"

Legacy

In December 2004, Dodd was in Nottinghammarker to be presented with a framed playbill after a sell out performance at the Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham to celebrate his fifty years in show business. Dodd's first professional performance was on stage at the Empire Theatre, Nottingham in 1954.

In a 2005 poll of comedians and comedy insiders to find The Comedian's 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 Universitymarker in 1997.

A statue depicting Dodd with his feather duster was unveiled in Lime Street Station, Liverpool on 11 June 2009.

Ken was made an honorary fellow of The University of Chestermarker on 4 November 2009, having been awarded Doctor of Letters at a graduation ceremony in Chester Cathedralmarker. His doctorate was presented by Gerald Grosvenor, 6th Duke of Westminster.

Personal life

Dodd has had two long-time fiancées, but has never married. A stalker, Ruth Tagg, who harassed Dodd and his girlfriend Anne Jones, sending threatening letters and a dead rat, attempted to burn down his house by pushing burning rags through the letterbox, in October 2001. Tagg pleaded guilty to harassment and arson at Preston Crown Court.

He underwent a hernia operation in late 2007, forcing him to cancel several shows, but was back on stage within a month. Dodd presented The History of Liverpool Comedians at St George's Hall on 1 and 2 April 2008.

Dodd is still touring and recently appeared in the Glasgow Pavilion in April 2009, playing to a sell-out crowd for over four hours.

Dodd was a supporter of the Conservatives under Margaret Thatcher and campaigned during the 1979 general election campaign, which brought her to power. In the last rally, in Wembley Stadium, he introduced her onto stage.

Ken Dodd: The Biography by Stephen Griffin was published on 15 September 2005 (ISBN 1-84317-123-6).

UK chart singles

  • "Love Is Like A Violin" (1960)
  • "Once In Every Lifetime" (1961)
  • "Pianissimo" (1962)
  • "Still" (1963)
  • "Eight By Ten" (1964)
  • "Happiness" (1964)
  • "So Deep Is The Night" (1964)
  • "Tears" (1965, number 1 hit and sold over a million copies, and is in the top 20 of the most sold songs in the UK)
  • "The River (Le Colline Sono In Fiore)" (1965)
  • "Where's Me Shirt"
  • "Promises" (1966)
  • "More Than Love" (1966)
  • "It's Love" (1966)
  • "Let Me Cry On Your Shoulder" (1967)
  • "Tears Won't Wash Away These Heartaches" (1969)
  • "Brokenhearted" (1970)
  • "When Love Comes Round Again (L'arca di Noe)" (1971)
  • "Just Out Of Reach (Of My Two Empty Arms)" (1972)
  • "(Think Of Me) Wherever You Are" (1975)
  • "You're My Best Friend" (1980)
  • "Matchstalk Men and Matchstalk Cats and Dogs" (1980)
  • "It Is No Secret (What God Can Do)" (1980)
  • "Hold My Hand" (1981)


References

External links




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