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Ken Dodd heads for Stafford Gatehouse

"I dreamed of bright lights, beautiful people and champagne – then I woke up in Stafford." Expect those to be the first words of legendary comedian Ken Dodd, when he tickles hundreds of fans during a marathon performance at The Gatehouse, on Thursday.

Ken Dodd heads for Stafford Gatehouse

"I dreamed of bright lights, beautiful people and champagne – then I woke up in Stafford." Expect those to be the first words of legendary comedian Ken Dodd, when he tickles hundreds of fans during a marathon performance at The Gatehouse, on Thursday (September 15, 2011).

Expect, too, to be late home. The 83-year-old comedian played a set that lasted almost five hours during a recent visit to nearby Shropshire.

Tickling sticks, fluff dom and denchers are also likely to feature – as will lots and lots of happiness.

Although Dodd has been in showbusiness for an astonishing 55 years, and although his routine has changed little in that time, it remains a favourite among fans.

Followers at The Gatehouse will be howling with laughter until, ooh, 11pm, 12midnight, or maybe even 1am.

He won't be afraid to take on the town, its customs or quirks, either. During a recent visit to Oakengates Theatre @ The Place, for instance, he quipped: "I was coming here today and by the time I got around the roundabouts in Telford the wheels had come off my car," he said.

Dodd has enduring appeal and his one-line style was influenced by such greats as Arthur Askey and Max Miller. In turn, Dodd is largely responsible for the comedic styles of Joe Pasquale and Harry Hill, among others.

Though he is now in the autumn of his career, he was once one of the biggest stars in the world. He sold an astonishing 100 million records worldwide and his 1965 track, Tears, sold more records than any other artist during that year – even outselling the Beatles.

Among comedians, Dodd is a legend and in a 2005 poll of funnymen and comedy insiders he was named among the Top 50 Comedy Acts Ever. A statue depicting Dodd and his famous feather duster was unveiled in his native Liverpool in 2009, at Lime Street Station.

Dodd provides a link with the past, to the swinging sixties, to Beatlemania, to Thatcher's Britain – he was one of her biggest supporters – but he remains as popular as ever with his loyal fans.

By Andy Richardson

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