Ken Dodd RIP: 1927-2018

By Planet Slop
Mon 12 March, 2018

As a Liverpool legend passes away, Planet Slop‘s comedy correspondent Alan Parry looks back at a formidable career.

I write with great sadness that Sir Ken Dodd (1927-2018) has passed on.

He’s shuffled off his mortal coil and gone to meet his maker. He leaves us with a lifetime of memories, and one of the greatest legacies of any stand-up/variety performer in the history of British entertainment.

As such, Doddy, will forever be one of Liverpool’s favourite sons, and it is fitting to pay tribute to him as a man, and as a performer and the legacy of his work.

His comedy style was primarily built on quick fire one-liners, of which he was a pioneer. Comedians today such as Gary Delaney, Stewart Francis, Jimmy Carr, and particularly Tim Vine and Milton Jones owe so much to him. It’s not a style to everybody’s taste.

But, Dodd was undoubtedly a genius joke-smith and master at organising his material, hiding the duds among the zingers in a way, that in a career spanning seven decades, never became old.

More than this, Dodd found a way to tell us stories, and interact with his live audience without ever skipping a beat. And, his live performances are the stuff of legend. Seemingly, everybody knows somebody who never made it to the end of one of his sets. Of course, this was not due to the quality of performance, more their own lack of durability, or the pressing need to be home for the babysitter.

It has been said of Dodd that he was the last great music hall entertainer, and perhaps he was. But, his impact can be seen most Saturday evenings on our television screens. In recent years, there has been a return to variety performance broadcasts, with both the BBC and ITV having embraced it once again. As Doddy continued to sell out tours well into his eighties, people like Simon Cowell made efforts to bring variety back to the small screen.

It’s a shame then, that many of these present shows miss the heart, and the star quality of people like Doddy and Brucey in their pomp.

But rather than look disparagingly at the likes of Michael McIntyre’s Big Show, and Britain’s Got Talent and rush to judgement, maybe we should take the time to consider their forefathers.

Is it really any wonder, that modern audiences want just a little bit of what they offered now? Life can be difficult, and bleak at times, and variety entertainment offers an escape for those who tune in or turn up.

Admittedly there is a sadness that in times passed we had amazing all-round entertainers, while now we must settle for what is often nothing short of a cheap imitation. But, as the saying goes, imitation is a form of flattery, and the very fact that there is still a demand for this form of entertainment is related to our British, nostalgic tendencies, and the love we have in our hearts for people like Sir Ken.