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Ken Dodd's link with Wigan that helped launch his career

Ken Dodd and Geoffrey Shryhane
Ken Dodd and Geoffrey Shryhane

Our top columnist, Geoffrey Shryhane, reveals his fond memories of a comedic legend...

It was one of those nights when sleep was far, far away. So at five to four, I lit the bedside candle and stumbled downstairs to watch the on-the-hour news.

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And that’s why I can say I knew of the death of dear Ken Dodd before most folks. It was a fluke, of course, because by rights I should have been in the land of nod.

Ken Dodd. Dead? Can’t be true. Iconic legends like Ken don’t die. They live for ever. Their chuckle muscles are never at rest.

But the man we all considered we knew personally has gone to his good rest after a great life. Ninety years old – well he couldn’t complain.

Let’s not beat about the bush … we all loved Ken down to his sticky-out teeth and wild hair.

And we all suspected that despite the mirth lay a very serious and deep-thinking man.

Years ago he was a regular in Wigan. Opening shops and testing out his material at invitation-only evenings at Wigan Little Theatre.

It’s 25 years since we settled in the bar of Manchester Palace Theatre, and he told me how Wigan featured in a major way in his life.

“Oh yes,” he said. “I signed to go professional in Wigan. I had been in the business for a while but it was a Wigan impresario by the name of Jimmy Brennan advised me to go pro without delay.

“And the next day, with his help, I signed the papers.”

His nights testing out new material to specially invited audiences left memorable memories. And, as usual, he didn’t leave the stage until well after midnight.

So farewell Doddy. Man of the people. Man of Comedy. Man with the biggest of big hearts.

Thanks for the memories.

RIP