Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Ken Dodd - an appreciation

I have always appreciated Ken Dodd and recently I summoned up enough courage to write to him. Ken Dodd has been an entertainer as long as I have been alive. He started the year before I was born in 1954. I recall him on TV in the 60s and of course the Diddy Men. There used to be a TV puppet series in around 1965. When we were only holiday in Wales we found a rather battered copy with Mick the Marmiliser and Dicky Mint. Phoebe has the copy now. My letter to Dodd tells all, but in chatting away to others it is clear that for many he has been a central part of their lives. Someone in their early 50s was telling me that they saw him on Morecambe Pier when he was 7. Another friend of mine determined not to like him because of Dodd’s supposed Tory sympathies went to a Christmas event in Burslem determined not to like him but Ken won him over. I suppose I like him because he is last of a breed that stretches back to the Victorian times. The torch has been passed from Dan Leno to George Robey to Max Miller to Sid Field and on to Ken Dodd and from then perhaps Peter Kay.

Dear Mr Dodd,
I thought that I would drop you line because I am a great admirer of your work. Truth is I have been working up the courage to write to you and the opportunity presented itself when I was researching an article for a local newspaper on the 1950s. I saw an advert in the Leek Post and Times dated July 1956 for the summer show at the Central Pier at Blackpool. You were second on the bill below Jimmy James and above Jimmy Clitheroe. I suppose most people were, physically anyway, were above Jimmy Clitheroe.
I will always regard a show I saw you do on the "Good Old Days" that was recorded on Norwegian Television in September 1975. I was living in a remote part of the country and feeling a little home sick when you came on following the typical orotund introduction from Leonard Sachs. You stopped half way through the show to remove a coat hanger, which I still think one of the funniest things. It made me very happy and for a time forget my loneliness.

I have seen you a few times live including a performance at Ellesmere Port- "Ellesmere Port is not twinned with anywhere, but it does have a suicide pact with Grimsby". And at the Victoria Hall in Hanley as you warned we did get home to Leek as the milkman was arriving. However. I often think that the idea of a suicide pact could be extended to include my hometown Stoke on Trent but the suicide pact would also involve Hull and Burnley.

I work part time on the tills at Morrison’s in Leek so I try to work in a bit of your material especially when someone buys a cucumber. "What a wonderful day to push a cucumber through a neighbours letterbox and shout the Martians have landed".

If it is a good day I manage a bit of my own material. A man bought two bottles of wine and a tin of Brasso. I warned him of the consequences of getting them mixed up ""a terrible end, but a lovely finish". I hope you approve.