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  • Tributes paid to veteran comedian Sir Ken Dodd who has died at the age of 90

    Henry James

    TRIBUTES have been paid to the veteran comedian Sir Ken Dodd, who brought his shows three times a year to Southport, and who has died at the age of 90.

    The entertainer performed in theatres all over the country in a career which spanned more than six decades, and was famous for his tickling sticks, his “tattifilarious” comedy, for his friends the Diddymen from Knotty Ash and for selling records all over the world.

    He died on Sunday only a matter of days after returning to his Knotty Ash home in Liverpool from hospital, where he had been treated during the last six weeks for a chest infection.

    Last week he had married Anne Jones, who had been his partner of 40 years.

    His publicist Robert Holmes announced Dodd’s death and said: “He passed away in the home that he was born in over 90 years ago. He’s never lived anywhere else.

    “With Ken gone, the lights have been turned out in the world of variety. He was a comedy legend and a genius.”

    Dodd made his professional debut in Nottingham in 1954.

    In the following decades he became a regular on the stage, TV and radio. His shows were famous for lasting more than five hours, although he always maintained that “he was giving value for money.”

    He had also survived setbacks and in 1989 the comedian was charged with tax evasion, but was acquitted.

    In recent years he had turned on Southport’s Christmas lights and gave his last performance at Southport theatre at the end of last year.

    A spokesman for Sefton Council said: "Sir Ken Dodd was one of Britain's funniest comedians and had strong links with Sefton.

    "He regularly performed at Southport Theatre and Convention Centre entertaining thousands of people with his legendary shows.

    "In 2008 he officially unveiled a £4m makeover of Southport's famous shopping boulevard, Lord Street, and was in the resort in 2015 as he paid tributes to his friend, Phil King - Sefton Council's former Chief Tourism and Attractions officer. "He was a one-off comedian and will be sadly missed."

    Lisa Chu, general manager at Southport theatre added: “The team at the Southport Theatre and Convention Centre are truly saddened by the news of Sir Ken’s death over the weekend. He and his wife Anne were great friends of the venue with relationships built over many years when he performed at least twice a year in the Southport Theatre. We are proud to have been one of Ken’s favourite venues and we feel privileged to have known both him and Anne personally over the years.

    “Not only was Sir Ken a true comedy genius who literally made hundreds of thousands of guests laugh, sing and leave every show with a spring in their step, he was genuinely a lovely caring person, a true professional and a great deal of fun to be around. He was loved by everyone who had the pleasure to meet him and his dedicated wife Anne who was always at his side.

    “The world has lost a true legend but his legacy will go on. It’s impossible for anybody who has touched as many people’s hearts as Ken Dodd, for him ever to be forgotten. Our thoughts, prayers and love go out to Anne and her family who we know will take comfort in the fact that Ken lived a full life and has had such a great positive impact on so many people over the years.”

    Phil Lilley, a director at Champion newspapers, remembers taking Dodd to the Southport Christmas lights switch on in his car and that he was late at the meeting point. Phil said: “There were three of us in the car, four if you include Ken’s long term partner Anne’s dog but it was enough. It was an audience and he was hilarious and somehow on time for the switch on.”

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