David A Ellis writes~ A few years ago I chatted with Liverpool’s most famous comedian Ken Dodd at the Civic Hall, Ellesmere Port. He was presenting his laughter show. Ken has performed all over Britain and has made numerous TV and radio programmes. He has appeared on the Royal variety show at the Palladium on a number of occasions. Ken made a number of appearances at the long gone Royalty theatre, Chester.
I interviewed the lad from Knotty Ash before his marathon performance in Ellesmere Port. He told me he was a boy ventriloquist and made an early appearance at the Flat Lane Labour club, Ellesmere Port, earning three and sixpence (seventeen and a half pence).
His father who was a coal merchant was also a musician, playing the double bass and saxophone. Ken added: “my father was also a great joke teller, encouraging my brother, sister and I to go into show business.”
Ken turned professional in 1954 and has been waving his tickling stick ever since. Ken’s first record was’ Love is like a Violin’, recorded in early spring of 1960 and by the autumn it was at the number one slot. He went on to record ‘Happiness’ in 1962.
Ken tells me that in 1965 he played the London Palladium for forty-two and a half weeks. While there, he recorded two songs at Abbey road studios. They were ‘Tears’ and ‘The River’. He told me that ‘Tears’ sold over two million copies and ‘The River’ earned him a silver disc.
Asked what was his greatest moment in the business, he said, “Tonight. It’s always the present that is the best, because yesterday is history and we don’t know what tomorrow will bring.”
I asked him if he invented the catchphrase ‘How Tickled I Am’. He told me that he wanted a catchphrase that he could vary and tells me that after racking his brains he came up with that one. Ken said: “When there were many comedians, you had to have your own trademark. Mine is the tickling stick, the hair and teeth.”
Ken tells me that one of his all time favourite venues is the Meadow Lane British Legion, Ellesmere Port.
I asked him about retirement. He said: “What’s that?”
David A Ellis