Entertainment

‘Britain has lost its greatest entertainer’ – Skegness remembers much-loved Sir Ken Dodd

He wowed fans in Skegness’ sold out Embassy Theatre for 45 years and his death has left a hole in many hearts.

Much-loved Sir Ken Dodd died peacefully at his home on Sunday, March 11 at the age of 90.

Staff at the Embassy Theatre have shared their memories of time spent with the comedian who performed more than 300 shows at the venue.

Sir Ken Dodd performing at the Embassy Theatre in Skegness

Sir Ken Dodd performing at the Embassy Theatre in Skegness
They have described him as a “true icon of British entertainment” as he performed with other comedy greats such as Sir Norman Wisdom and Frankie Howard.

He proudly reopened the Embassy Theatre after the venue was extensively re-modelled on August 3, 2000.

Ken would famously perform well into the early hours before a sell-out audience.

Theatre manager Pollyanne Trapmore-Shaw said: “The Ken Dodd Happiness Show was always guaranteed to bring a smile to your face.

“It is sad to think that he will not perform here again. He always allowed time for this fans and was always ready with a quick gag both on and off stage to keep everyone smiling.

'Britain has lost its greatest entertainer' – Skegness remembers much-loved Sir Ken Dodd

The new £3-million Embassy Centre in Skegness was officially opened by Ken Dodd.
“The Ken Dodd Happiness Show has been a part of so many lives. I for one feel extremely privileged to have welcomed him, Anne and their little dog into our venue on a professional capacity each year.

“As a 12-year-old, I vividly recall sitting in the front stalls at one of Ken’s summer shows here at The Embassy. He picked out my Mum, my sister and I with matching “seven-inch pudding basin haircuts – missus” witty, gentle but always well observed and playing perfectly to the family audience.

“Year after year, the houses remained full – the older generation continued “educating” the younger generation in the heritage of what seaside British stand-up should be.

“Flasks, Tupperware boxes, cups of coffee all at the 10.45pm interval (which was when any other show would be finished). Our sales of Red Bull would rocket on this night alone as the youngsters take on their endurance test – just to keep up with the King of Comedy!

“His final performance on our stage was on August 2, 2017 to a packed house. Aged 89, Ken was of course beginning to move a little slower and his show was not quite as long as previous years but his quick fire repartee and plethora of material was still a sight to behold.

He died in the house he grew up in

He died in the house he grew up in
“The saying goes “behind every great man is a great woman” – from my observation there was no greater than Ken’s, now, wife Anne Jones. Watching her work her organisational magic backstage over the years was a true partnership – one that, in my opinion, kept Sir Ken for so many years in the environment that truly lit him up inside – and this was on-stage, in front of his adoring fans.”

Staff of the theatre concluded: “His memory will live on through his extensive catalogue of work and we are proud to have been a part of his long and distinguished career. He will always remain in our thoughts as a legend of British comedy.”

Former Skegness councillor Robin Hunter-Clarke also paid tribute to the comedy legend who he got to spend time with during the summer seasons at the Embassy Theatre.

'Britain has lost its greatest entertainer' – Skegness remembers much-loved Sir Ken Dodd

Robin Hunter-Clarke with Sir Ken Dodd
“It has been a time for reflection, in light of Great Britain losing its greatest entertainer/comedian.

“His career has spanned generations, and Ken was not just loved by his fans, but adored.

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“I was incredibly fortunate to have got to know him in a very small way, while working the summer seasons at the Embassy Theatre in Skegness. He genuinely loved Skegness.

“He was always kind to me, interested, and never in a rush.

“2am could strike, and a standing ovation later, the packed audience was still cheering for more Ken Dodd.

“A bit of a contrast to modern day comedians who can barely manage an hour of material.

“You certainly got value for money. He confessed how stage-struck he was – he lived to perform. It was a sort of oxygen to him.

“Ken – you brought so much happiness to the world. And that was your goal wasn’t it? You achieved it. It was a privilege to have known you.”