Ken Dodd
Kenneth Arthur Dodd OBE
Order of the British Empire
The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is an order of chivalry established on 4 June 1917 by George V of the United Kingdom. The Order comprises five classes in civil and military divisions...

 (born Liverpool
Liverpool is a city and metropolitan borough of Merseyside, England, along the eastern side of the Mersey Estuary. It was founded as a borough in 1207 and was granted city status in 1880...

, 8 November 1927) is a British
British people
The British are citizens of the United Kingdom, of the Isle of Man, any of the Channel Islands, or of any of the British overseas territories, and their descendants...

A comedian or comic is a person who seeks to entertain an audience, primarily by making them laugh. This might be through jokes or amusing situations, or acting a fool, as in slapstick, or employing prop comedy...

 and singer songwriter, famous for his frizzy hair or “fluff dom” and buck teeth or “denchers”, his favourite cleaner, the feather duster
Feather duster
A feather duster is an implement used for cleaning. It consists typically of a wooden-dowel handle and feathers from either the male or female ostrich bird that are wound onto the handle by a wrapped wire. Dusters vary in size by are most often between 14" and 32" in total length. Some dusters...

 (or "tickling stick") and his greeting "How tickled I am!", as well as his send-off “Lots and Lots of Happiness!”. He works mainly in the music hall
Music hall
Music Hall is a type of British theatrical entertainment which was popular between 1850 and 1960. The term can refer to:# A particular form of variety entertainment involving a mixture of popular song, comedy and speciality acts...

 tradition, although, in the past, has occasionally appeared in drama, including as Malvolio
Malvolio is the steward of Olivia's household in William Shakespeare's comedy, Twelfth Night, or What You Will.-Style:Malvolio's ethical values are commonly used to define his appearance.In the play, Malvolio is defined as a "kind of" Puritan...

 in Shakespeare
William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon"...

's Twelfth Night on stage in Liverpool
Liverpool is a city and metropolitan borough of Merseyside, England, along the eastern side of the Mersey Estuary. It was founded as a borough in 1207 and was granted city status in 1880...

 in 1971; on television in the cameo role of 'The Tollmaster' in the 1987 Doctor Who
Doctor Who
Doctor Who is a British science fiction television programme produced by the BBC. The programme depicts the adventures of a time-travelling humanoid alien known as the Doctor who explores the universe in a sentient time machine called the TARDIS that flies through time and space, whose exterior...

story Delta and the Bannermen
Delta and the Bannermen
-Preproduction:*This was the first three-part story since Planet of Giants , not counting the 3 x 45 minute episodes of The Two Doctors, which had been broadcast two years previously, and the first intended to be this length....

; and as Yorick (in silent flashback) in Kenneth Branagh
Kenneth Branagh
Kenneth Charles Branagh is an actor and film director from Northern Ireland. He is best known for directing and starring in several film adaptations of William Shakespeare's plays including Henry V , Much Ado About Nothing , Hamlet Kenneth Charles Branagh is an actor and film director from...

's film version
Hamlet (1996 film)
Hamlet is a 1996 film version of William Shakespeare's classic play of the same name, adapted and directed by Kenneth Branagh, who also stars in the title role as Prince Hamlet...

 of Shakespeare's Hamlet
The Tragical History of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, or more simply Hamlet, is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written between 1599 and 1601...

in 1996. In total he has sold more than 100 million records worldwide. In the 1960s his fame was such that he rivalled The Beatles
The Beatles
The Beatles were an English rock band, active throughout the 1960s and one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed acts in the history of popular music. Formed in Liverpool, by 1962 the group consisted of John Lennon , Paul McCartney , George Harrison and Ringo Starr...

 as a household name.

Style, career and achievement

Dodd's stand-up comedy
Stand-up comedy
Stand-up comedy is a comedic art form. Usually, a comedian performs in front of a live audience, speaking directly to them. Their performances are sometimes filmed for later release via DVD, the internet, and television...

 style is fast and relies on the rapid delivery of one-liner joke
One-liner joke
A one-liner is a joke that is delivered in a single line. A good one-liner is said to be pithy.Comedians and actors use this comedic method as part of their act, e.g...

s. He has claimed that his comic influences include other Liverpool comedians like Arthur Askey
Arthur Askey
Arthur Bowden Askey CBE was a prominent English comedian.- Life and career :Askey was born at 29 Moses Street, Liverpool, the eldest child and only son of Samuel Askey , secretary of the firm Sugar Products of Liverpool, and his wife, Betsy Bowden , of Knutsford, Cheshire...

, Robb Wilton
Robb Wilton
Robb Wilton, born Robert Wilton Smith was an English comedian and comic actor who was famous for his filmed monologues in the 1930s and 1940s in which he played incompetent authority figures....

, Tommy Handley
Tommy Handley
Thomas Reginald "Tommy" Handley was a British comedian, mainly known for the BBC radio programme ITMA . He was born at Toxteth Park, Liverpool in Lancashire....

 and Max Miller. 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
Decca Records
Decca Records began as a British record label established in 1929 by Edward Lewis. Its U.S. label was established in late 1934; however, owing to World War II, the link with the British company was broken for several decades....

 by Alex Wharton
Alex Wharton
Alex Wharton , later also known as Alex Murray, was part of the singing duo the Most Brothers with Mickie Most, and later, co-manager and producer of the band, Moody Blues.-Singing and acting career:...

, which charted at number 8 (UK), and his song "Tears
Tears (Ken Dodd song)
"Tears" is a song written by lyricist Frank Capano and composer Billy Uhr, and was first recorded by Rudy Vallee in 1929. It was made famous as a single by Ken Dodd, which was released in 1965...

" (Columbia
Columbia Graphophone Company
The Columbia Graphophone Company was one of the earliest gramophone companies in the United Kingdom. Under EMI, as Columbia Records, it became a very successful label in the 1950s and 1960s...

), which topped the UK charts for five weeks in 1965, selling over a million copies. At the time it was the UK's biggest selling single by a solo artist, and remains one of the UK's biggest selling singles of all time. Dodd was selected to perform the song on A Jubilee Of Music
A Jubilee of Music
A Jubilee of Music is a one off BBC Television entertainment show of 75 minutes duration, broadcast on 31 December 1976 on BBC1. The show was produced to celebrate the British music successes of the first twenty-five years of Elizabeth II's reign, ahead of the commencement of 1977, the year of her...

on BBC One
BBC One is the flagship television channel of the British Broadcasting Corporation in the United Kingdom. It was launched on 2 November 1936 as the BBC Television Service, and was the world's first regular television service with a high level of image resolution...

 on December 31, 1976, a celebration of the key pop successes of Queen Elizabeth II's first twenty-five years as UK monarch.

Dodd is renowned for the length of his performances, 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
Royal Variety Performance
The Royal Variety Performance is a gala evening held annually in the United Kingdom, which is attended by senior members of the British Royal Family, usually the reigning monarch. In more recent years Queen Elizabeth II and The Prince of Wales have alternately attended the performance...

 in 2006 in front of Charles, Prince of Wales
Charles, Prince of Wales
Prince Charles, Prince of Wales is the heir apparent and eldest son of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Since 1958 his major title has been His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales. In Scotland he is additionally known as The Duke of Rothesay...

 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".

Early life

Dodd was born on 8 November 1927 in Knotty Ash
Knotty Ash
Knotty Ash is an area of Liverpool, Merseyside, England and a Liverpool City Council Ward. Historically within Lancashire, at the 2001 Census, the population was 13,200.-Description:...

, 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. He accepted the dare, crashed, and received facial injuries which resulted in his distinctive buck teeth.

He then attended Holt High School, a Grammar School in Childwall
Childwall is a suburb of Liverpool, Merseyside, England and a Liverpool City Council Ward. It is located to the south of the city, bordered by Gateacre, Wavertree, Belle Vale, Broadgreen, Bowring Park and Mossley Hill...

, 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: "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, he made his professional show-business debut at the now-demolished Nottingham Empire. A nervous young man, he sat in a local Milk Bar
Milk bar
Milk bar is a term in some parts of Australia for suburban local shops or general stores. They are known as tuck shops, delicatessens or delis in South Australia and Western Australia, and as corner stores in Queensland and New South Wales...

 for most of the afternoon, going over and over his lines before going to the theatre. He later said, "Well at least they didn't boo me off". He continued to perform, eventually topping the bill at Blackpool
Blackpool is a borough, seaside town, and unitary authority area of Lancashire, in North West England. It is situated along England's west coast by the Irish Sea, between the Ribble and Wyre estuaries, northwest of Preston, north of Liverpool, and northwest of Manchester...

 in 1958.


In December 2004, Dodd was in Nottingham
Nottingham is a city and unitary authority in the East Midlands of England. It is located in the ceremonial county of Nottinghamshire and represents one of eight members of the English Core Cities Group...

 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 University
Liverpool John Moores University
Liverpool John Moores University is a British 'modern' university located in the city of Liverpool, England. The university is named after John Moores and was previously called Liverpool Mechanics' School of Arts and later Liverpool Polytechnic before gaining university status in 1992, thus...

 in 1997. A statue depicting Dodd with his feather duster was unveiled in Lime Street Station, Liverpool on 11 June 2009.

Dodd was made an honorary fellow of The University of Chester
University of Chester
The University of Chester is a public research university located in Chester, United Kingdom. The University, based on a main campus in Chester and a smaller campus in Warrington, offers a range of foundation, undergraduate and postgraduate courses, as well as undertaking academic research.Chester...

 on 4 November 2009, having been awarded Doctor of Letters
Doctor of Letters
Doctor of Letters is a university academic degree, often a higher doctorate which is frequently awarded as an honorary degree in recognition of outstanding scholarship or other merits.-Commonwealth:...

 at a graduation ceremony in Chester Cathedral
Chester Cathedral
Chester Cathedral is the mother church of the Church of England Diocese of Chester, and is located in the city of Chester, Cheshire, England. The cathedral, formerly St Werburgh's abbey church of a Benedictine monastery, is dedicated to Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary...

. His doctorate was presented by Gerald Grosvenor, 6th Duke of Westminster
Gerald Grosvenor, 6th Duke of Westminster
Major-General Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor, 6th Duke of Westminster, , is the son of Robert George Grosvenor, 5th Duke of Westminster, and his wife Hon. Viola Maud Lyttelton. He is the owner of property company Grosvenor Group...

. He was awarded a Doctorate of Letters at Liverpool Hope University
Liverpool Hope University
Liverpool Hope University is a university in Liverpool, England. Two of its three founding colleges were established in 1844 and 1856, the third opening in the 1960s. It is the only ecumenical university in Europe. Based on two campuses, the main campus is located in Childwall and the second...

 on 25 January 2010 during the University's Foundation Day celebrations.

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 (who is also a current support act, named 'Sybie' Jones), sending threatening letters and a dead rat
Rats are various medium-sized, long-tailed rodents of the superfamily Muroidea. "True rats" are members of the genus Rattus, the most important of which to humans are the black rat, Rattus rattus, and the brown rat, Rattus norvegicus...

, 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 performances, 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 appeared in the Glasgow Pavilion in April 2009, playing to a sell-out crowd for over four hours. September 2010 saw Dodd perform at the Playhouse Theatre, Weston Super Mare (Somerset, UK), where he performed to a full house in a show that started at 7pm and finished well after midnight.

He also played at Southport Theatre and Convention Centre, on Saturday November 20, 2010. Similar to the Glasgow Pavilion in April 2009, the show started at 7 pm and finished in the early hours of Sunday 21 November.

Dodd was a supporter of the Conservatives
Conservative Party (UK)
The Conservative Party, formally the Conservative and Unionist Party, is a centre-right political party in the United Kingdom that adheres to the philosophies of conservatism and British unionism. It is the largest political party in the UK, and is currently the largest single party in the House...

 under Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher, was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990...

 and campaigned during the 1979 general election campaign
United Kingdom general election, 1979
The United Kingdom general election of 1979 was held on 3 May 1979 to elect 635 members to the British House of Commons. The Conservative Party, led by Margaret Thatcher ousted the incumbent Labour government of James Callaghan with a parliamentary majority of 43 seats...

, which brought her to power. In the last rally, in Wembley Stadium, he introduced her onto stage.

His first and only book, Look At It My Way, was published in November 2009. Ken Dodd: The Biography by Stephen Griffin was published on 15 September 2005 (ISBN 1-84317-123-6). In July 2010, the regional UK airline, Eastern Airways
Eastern Airways
Eastern Airways is an airline with its head office at Humberside Airport in Kirmington, North Lincolnshire, England. It operates scheduled domestic and international services and private charter services...

, named one of their Jetstream 41 aircraft after Dodd, in celebration of one year of scheduled services to Liverpool, and the support that Dodd shows for the region and in particular the airport.

UK Chart Singles

Title Release date Chart Positions Notes
U.K. Singles
UK Singles Chart
The UK Singles Chart is compiled by The Official Charts Company on behalf of the British record-industry. The full chart contains the top selling 200 singles in the United Kingdom based upon combined record sales and download numbers, though some media outlets only list the Top 40 or the Top 75 ...

"Love Is Like a Violin" 7 July 1960 8 Reached #9 US Billboard
"Once in Every Lifetime" 15 June 1961 28
"Pianissimo" 1 February 1962 21
"Still" 29 August 1963 35
"Eight by Ten" 6 February 1964 22
"Happiness" 23 July 1964 31
"So Deep Is the Night" 26 November 1964 31
Tears (Ken Dodd song)
"Tears" is a song written by lyricist Frank Capano and composer Billy Uhr, and was first recorded by Rudy Vallee in 1929. It was made famous as a single by Ken Dodd, which was released in 1965...

2 September 1965 1 Sold over a million copies;
19 in the top 20 of the most sold songs in the UK
"The River (Le Colline Sono In Fiore)" 18 November 1965 3
"Promises" 12 May 1966 6
"More Than Love" 4 August 1966 14
"It's Love" 27 October 1966 36
"Let Me Cry on Your Shoulder" 19 January 1967 11
"Tears Won't Wash Away These Heartaches" 30 July 1969 22
"Brokenhearted" 5 December 1970 15
"When Love Comes Round Again (L'arca di Noe)" 10 July 1971 19
"Just Out Of Reach (Of My Two Empty Arms)" 18 November 1972 29
"(Think of Me) Wherever You Are" 29 November 1975 21
"Hold My Hand" 26 December 1981 44

Other Singles

  • "Where's Me Shirt" (1965)
  • "You're My Best Friend" (1980)
  • "Matchstalk Men and Matchstalk Cats and Dogs" (1980)
  • "It Is No Secret (What God Can Do)" (1980)
  • "Ken Dodd's dad's dogs dead" masterpiece (2011)

Tax Evasion Court Case

In 1989 Dodd was charged with tax evasion
Tax evasion
Tax evasion is the general term for efforts by individuals, corporations, trusts and other entities to evade taxes by illegal means. Tax evasion usually entails taxpayers deliberately misrepresenting or concealing the true state of their affairs to the tax authorities to reduce their tax liability,...

. The subsequent trial, with the prosecution case lead by Brian Leveson
Brian Leveson
Brian Henry Leveson QC , previously styled as the Honourable Mr Justice Leveson, now styled as the Right Honourable Lord Justice Leveson, is an English Judge, a Lord Justice of Appeal for England and Wales and, since 2010, head of the Sentencing Council for England and Wales.It was announced on 13...

 QC, led to several revelations. The Diddy Men
Diddy Men
The Diddy Men are commonly believed to be a creation of the British comedian Ken Dodd. However, they have existed in local mythology for much longer and, along with the Treacle and Jam Butty Mines of Knotty Ash, had been referred to in the earlier act of another Liverpool comedian Arthur Askey...

, who had appeared in his stage act, were often played by local children from stage schools, and 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
George Carman
George Alfred Carman, QC , was a leading English barrister of the 1980s and 1990s. He first came to the attention of the general public in 1979, when he successfully defended the former Liberal leader Jeremy Thorpe after he was charged with conspiracy to murder...

, 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
Easter is the central feast in the Christian liturgical year. According to the Canonical gospels, Jesus rose from the dead on the third day after his crucifixion. His resurrection is celebrated on Easter Day or Easter Sunday...

 to Christmas
Christmas or Christmas Day is an annual holiday generally celebrated on December 25 by billions of people around the world. It is a Christian feast that commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ, liturgically closing the Advent season and initiating the season of Christmastide, which lasts twelve days...

 1990 at the London Palladium
London Palladium
The London Palladium is a 2,286 seat West End theatre located off Oxford Street in the City of Westminster. From the roster of stars who have played there and many televised performances, it is arguably the most famous theatre in London and the United Kingdom, especially for musical variety...

. 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!"

External Links

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