Ken Dodd, the Squire of Knotty Ash, has finally been knighted in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List after a long campaign by fans. The legendary Liverpool comedian said he was “proud and also humbled” to receive the knighthood, paying tribute to all those who had campaigned over the years for him to be recognised. And he joked that he was now going to buy a new suit for his trip to Buckingham Palace, as well as thinking of a suitable joke to tell the Queen. The 89-year-old said: “I woke up this morning and thought – what a beautiful day for becoming a Sir!”
He added: “I’m absolutely delighted to receive this honour. It’s wonderful. I’m very proud, and highly tickled. I’ve known for a couple of weeks and it’s been very, very difficult to keep it quiet, but we managed to keep tight lipped about it. It just builds up to a bigger thrill I suppose.”
There have been a number of campaigns over the years to have the Squire of Knotty Ash given the top honour for his long career. Doddy, who performed his 25th anniversary Happiness Shows to packed houses at the Philharmonic Hall this week, said he wanted to “share this award with everybody. It’s down to their love and affection that I am who I am”.
He added: “I want to say thank you to all the people, particularly on Merseyside, who wished it for me. They were determined to get me a gong, and here I am. Lots of people wrote in to Downing Street and said would it be possible to give me a knighthood to wear in bed.”
The New Year’s honour is also for his charitable works.
Sir Ken, who was given an OBE in 1982, said: “It’s always been very gratifying to me being able to help people less fortunate than myself. I’ve been very, very blessed. I’ve had a wonderful life of love and laughter, and it’s a great honour to help other people.”
Kenneth Arthur Dodd was born in Knotty Ash in November 1927, one of three children of coal merchant Arthur Dodd and his wife Sarah. Speaking about his parents, he said: “They would, or will be, very proud of me, of the award.”
The young Ken got his first paid gig as a schoolboy when he entertained the boys at the city’s St Edward’s Orphanage, earning himself half a crown. His first big break came in 1954 when he made his professional showbiz debut at the old Nottingham Empire, later making a name for himself in shows at Blackpool.
He created the Diddy Men in the 1960s, the little people who worked in the jam butty mines of Knotty Ash. It was in the 1960s that he also became a chart-topper with his single Tears, which beat the Beatles to number one, selling more than a million copies and staying in the top spot for five weeks – one of 19 top 40 records – and still one of the UK’s biggest selling singles of all time.
Meanwhile in 1971, he played Malvolio in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night at the Liverpool Playhouse.
He remains best known however for the length of his live shows, with fans often missing the last buses and trains home. We have seen him live a few times and he often starts the show at about 7:30pm and other than a couple of songs by the Diddy Men he is on stage until 12:30am despite his advancing age. And despite more than 60 years in the entertainment business, he still shows no sign of hanging up the famous tickling stick.
Speaking a few years ago, he explained: “I say look, a man, or a lady, retires when they stop doing what they don’t want to do and start doing what they do want to do. I’m doing what I love doing. I’m completely and utterly stage-struck. I love show business and the most beautiful sound in the world to me is an audience laughing.”
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