By Lola Johnson
COMEDIAN Sir Ken Dodd, the national treasure whose death aged 90 was announced today, has been fondly remembered in Coventry.
In 1956, the Liverpudlian creator of ‘the Diddy Men’, famously from Knotty Ash, appeared on the programme for one of the Hippodrome’s spectacular Birthday Shows in Coventry.
An up-and-coming comedian at the time, he was not top billing, performing instead after comedic partners, Jimmy Jewel and Ben Warriss.
Four years later the comedian returned for the Hippodrome’s spring show, performing to a full house, billed alongside Shirley Bassey, the legendary Welsh singer.
“Ken Dodd was a wonderful performer,” said Paul Newsome, son of the Hippodrome’s managing director at the time, Samuel Herbert Newsome.
Paul told the Coventry Observer today: “He had an ability to keep audiences in raptures for hours on end.
“There was no doubt, from the moment he took the stage, that he was going to remain an extremely popular and clever comedian for years.
“One did not know in 1960 that we would still be going to see Ken Dodd in 2017, fifty-seven years on.
‘His particular style of comedy was extremely popular throughout the decades, and for all ages. I heard that, towards the end of his life, his shows ran for several hours.
“I knew him personally and received a letter from him last year, after he was knighted. I had every intention of seeing him shortly but, unfortunately, it was not to be.”
The New Hippodrome later became a Gala bingo hall before it was demolished to make way for Millennium Place, Coventry city centre.
More theatre memories to come in your Coventry Observer this week.