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Friday, 8 November 2013

Ken Dodd born 8 October 1927

 

Kenneth Arthur Dodd OBE (born 8 November 1927, in Knotty Ash, Liverpool), better known as Ken Dodd, is a veteran English comedian and singer, famous for selling over 100 million records, his buck teeth, frizzy hair, feather duster (or "tickling stick"), and his catchphrases, often playing on the 'tickled' motif, e.g. "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 Liverpool 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.

His comedy style is fast and furious, relying on a rapid delivery of a huge number of one-liner jokes. He intersperses the comedy with occasional songs, both serious and humorous, in a light baritone voice resulting in many recording hits; Love Is Like A Violin (1960), Tears, (1965) selling over two million copies. This remains one of the biggest selling singles of all time in the United Kingdom.

It was also during the 1960s that Dodd entered the Guinness Book of Records, for the world's longest joke-telling session ever: 1,500 jokes in three and a half hours, undertaken at a Liverpool  theatre, where audiences were observed to enter the show in shifts. Most 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".
 
Ken Dodd was born on the 8th November 1927 in Knotty Ash on the outskirts of Liverpool, son of a coal merchant, Arthur Dodd and wife Sarah Dodd. 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 10 feet and the bike hit the kerb. Ken went flying open-mouthed onto the tarmac, resulting in his famous teeth of today.
 
He then attended Holt High, a Grammar School in Childwall. Around this time he became interested in showbiz. 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 the age of 27. In September 1954 he appeared at the Nottingham Playhouse. 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 can't remember much of the actual act of that night. He did recall, "Well at least they didn't boo me off". But there wasn't much fear of that, as Dodd's act went from strength to strength, eventually topping the bill at Blackpool in 1958.
 
Fortunately, Ken had quite a good voice and his renditions of romantic ballads were good enough for him to be given the opportunity to record. So in 1960 his entry into the UK chart came as no surprise, but his transformation into a romantic balladeer was nevertheless a significant achievement for a buck-toothed comedian.His first single was no 'flash in the pan'. In fact Ken Dodd's success in the 1960s makes a mockery of the claims of many critics and music writers who hold the erroneous- though often quoted- belief that all the old singers were swept away by the Beatles and those in the vanguard of Britain's beat boom. In fact Ken's 1965 hit 'Tears' spent four weeks at #1, longer than the Beatles, The Hollies or the Rolling Stones could manage at about the same time. Not only that, Dodd's pop chart career ran for more than 10 years, a feat few beat groups can match.
 


 
Ken Dodd's personal life has not been without incident. He was charged with tax evasion in 1989. The subsequent trial led to several revelations.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." The trial lasted nearly three months: Dodd was acquitted.
 
More recently. the focus has been on Ken Dodd's continuing legacy as one of the UK's finest comedy performers. In December 2004, Dodd was in Nottingham to be presented with a framed playbill after a sell out performance at the Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham to celebrate his 50 years in show business. Dodd's first professional performance was on stage at the Empire Theatre, Nottingham in 1954. He has appeared in legions of Royal Variety Shows, most recently last year when Prince Charles had to dry his eyes with a hanky because he cried so much with laughter.
 
Dodd is the last of the music hall comics, and is well regarded by his comedy peers. In a 2005 poll of comedians and comedy insiders to find The Comedian's Comedian, he was voted amongst the 'Top 50 Comedy Acts Ever', ranked as number 36. Dodd is also famed for his meticulous recording of every performance, cross-referencing the place he was performing, the jokes he has used, and the reception they received, so as to hone his act to near-perfection for each audience. He once was said to have commented that first house on a Glasgow Friday night was the hardest audience in the UK.


 The veteran comic, who celebrates his 86th birthday today, still lives in the listed Georgian farmhouse in which he was born in Knotty Ash. (info mainly Wikipedia)
                                             
The last word from Ken – “Did you know that a laugh is something that comes out of a hole in your face? Anywhere else and you're in dead trouble!"


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