When I was ten years old I was in hospital with appendicitis and spent about a week on the children’s ward. There was a young man in the bed next to me who was often visited by his Grandmother, she would sit with him and chat away and if he was sleeping she would talk to me. I don’t remember her name but I remember that we used to talk about comedians, I must have told her that I liked Laurel and Hardy and Buster Keaton films as one day she brought me a box of audio tapes to listen to. The box contained lots of Tony Hancock and a Ken Dodd radio show. At ten years of age I became obsessed with Hancock’s Half Hour and a lifelong fan of Ken Dodd.
I recorded everything I could on Ken, every television appearance and Radio show, collected every article in print and bought every book and album I could find. To me Ken was a direct link with all of those comedians I admired that I never got the chance to see such as Ted Ray and Max Miller.
I first met Ken when I was 22 years old. I’d been to see his show at the Broxbourne Civic Hall and waited at stage door for him afterwards. Even though the show had lasted five hours it still took him about an hour and a half to appear at stage door, he’d been holding court in his dressing room with some guests. Ken eventually appeared and my friend and I were the last people waiting at stage door, everyone else had given up but I just had to meet him, to thank him for the show and for all the laughs he’d given me over the years. He was driving back to Liverpool that night (or that morning I should say) and yet he stood and gave me the time to chat without feeling as though I was holding him up. I was fortunate enough to meet Ken several times over the years and each time was a joy. Ken was my comedy hero, there was nothing he didn’t know about the art of comedy, and it is an art. From warming the audience up, taking them along, playing the house, pitching gags at just the right level, layering the laughs and delivering them machine gun style to achieve the best TPM (Titters Per Minute)
Obviously I was devastated when he died, even though he’d been ill I was still shocked when the news came through from the BBC and yet, I didn’t cry because my social media suddenly became filled with clips of Ken, newspapers printed his best jokes, there were pictures of Ken everywhere and everywhere I went people wanted to tell me about the time they saw Doddy. And whenever they did, they had smiles on their faces, what a legacy.
In my eye’s he was the greatest, every age has their’s and Ken was mine. I hadn’t cried till today when the organ in Liverpool Cathedral started playing Happiness as Ken was carried out, his final curtain call and a rapturous standing ovation.
Tatty Bye Ken, Tatty Bye, x