COMEDY lovers have united to remember legendary performer Sir Ken Dodd, who has died aged 90.
Hailed as one of the most popular funnymen of all time, the star’s publicist confirmed he died at his Liverpool home on Sunday night.
It came just days after he married Anne Jones, his partner of 40 years, at the same house on Friday – after being released from hospital following six weeks of treatment for a chest infection.
Now retired, Sandra Smith spent decades working at The Kings Theatre in Southsea – where the late Sir Ken performed multiple times throughout his career.
And with a history of famed four and five-hour shows under his belt, Sandra said staff ‘knew they would be going home late’ when he was on the on the billing.
She said: ‘I am so sad – he truly was a really lovely person.
‘His songs made everybody feel really happy for the hours he was entertaining them and the laughter made all the staff feel great, although they knew it was going to be a late night.
‘When he arrived at the theatre stage door, I would help Ann [a colleague] bring all his gear in, as he gave his time talking and signing with fans who had been waiting.
‘May he rest in peace.’
Alongside his catalogue of one-liners, Sir Ken gained scores of fans as the creator of The Diddy Men – a miniature race of characters hailing from his home of Knotty Ash, in Liverpool.
He also earned 19 spots in the UK top 40 charts with his comedic songs.
Tony Smith, manager of the nostalgic Havant station Angel Radio since 1999, conversed with the late great on multiple occasions – and marked his death with a trip down memory lane yesterday.
He said: ‘It makes me very sad to hear what has happened.
‘I dedicated the whole hour of my show to him and played back some of the conversations we had on the air over the years.
‘He was a difficult person to interview, as every serious question was answered with a dozen jokes.
‘But even though he is gone now, it’s wonderful to know we will always have those recordings to go back to.
‘He was a very thoughtful man – one of the last greats of the music hall tradition.’
Showgoers in Fareham will also remember the occasions Mr Dodd visited Ferneham Hall, in 2001, 2003, 2008, 2010 and 2013.
Councillor Sue Bell, executive member for leisure and community at Fareham Borough council, said the authority was ‘very sorry’ to hear of his death.
She said: ‘“Doddy” visited Ferneham Hall a number of times, all of which were sell out shows – many staff will have lovely memories of meeting him over the years.
‘His last appearance at Ferneham Hall in front of another sell-out crowd was March 31, 2013 at the age of 85.
‘On one occasion Ken and his wife met the then Mayor of Fareham, Alderman Crouch, and his wife, in the parlour for afternoon tea. He was a true gentleman and will be sorely missed.’
Among swathes of heartfelt messages, fellow Liverpudlian, actress Claire Sweeney, called the performer a ‘legend’ and an ‘inspiration’ on Twitter.