Tributes to Sir Ken Dodd who helped shape Harrogate's comedy circuit

Mike Hine and Mary Stalker present Sir Ken Dodd with a special birthday cake.
Mike Hine and Mary Stalker present Sir Ken Dodd with a special birthday cake.

Harrogate residents have been sharing their fond memories of comedy legend Sir Ken Dodd, who died aged 90 on Sunday.

Sir Ken visited the town many times to perform his sell-out shows. He celebrated his 90th birthday at the Royal Hall last year, where he was presented with a birthday cake at his fundraiser for the Royal Hall Restoration Trust.

The hall’s assistant front of house manager, Mary Stalker, was delighted to present the cake to Sir Ken. Tributes have also been paid to the comedy legend by the chairman of Harrogate Theatre Jim Clark, who saw Sir Ken perform many times. He said Sir Ken was a “great friend” to the theatre.

Jim said: “He always played to full houses when he came. Of course, he was renowned for running well over time. It’s the end of an era, there will never be anyone like him again.”

Jim said Sir Ken played an instrumental role in making Harrogate a destination for comedy. He said: “We have a reputation in Harrogate for comedy, comics want to come to Harrogate. And Sir Ken was very much a part of building up that reputation.

“He was the same off the stage as on the stage, he was always cracking jokes all the time. I’ve never added up how many jokes he told on stage, but it was just one after the other.

“He was always at the top of his form, and you always knew you would get a tremendous laugh if you went to see him.”

Front of house manager at the Royal Hall, Andy Lane, said: “He always had time to talk to people. When the shows finished, he didn’t leave straight away. He would wander around the building admiring its characteristics. He was always appreciative of where he was.”

Andy said he remembers Sir Ken performing on stage at the Royal Hall until 1am. Sir Ken was a regular visitor to the district, performing at the Royal Hall since at least 1975.

In an interview with the ‘Advertiser in 2013, Sir Ken said of the Royal Hall: “It’s absolutely beautiful. There are many fine venues I love, including the Blackpool Grand and the Gaiety Theatre on the Isle of Man but the Royal Hall is the nicest in Britain.”

Entertainer Andy Eastwood performed in 350 shows with Sir Ken.

He said: “It’s hard to accept that I’ll never again have the buzz of belting out my routine to a sizzling Ken Dodd audience, and seeing the legend at work, but I know that his influence in the entertainment world will live on immeasurably through the countless artists who have benefited from his genius.

“This is terribly sad but his lasting legacy will be happiness."