Kenneth Arthur Dodd was born at an early age in Liverpool
on 8th November 1927. He grew up in Knotty Ash, which -
surprisingly - is a real district of the city, and
developed a comedy act as Professor Yaffle Chuckabutty,
Operatic Tenor and Sausage Knotter, singing comic
versions of well-known songs.
Turning professional in 1954, he did summer seasons in Blackpool
in 1955 and 1956. It was in these shows that he met and
worked with Jimmy Clitheroe. Doddy said
recently: “Morecambe and Wise topped the bill, but Jimmy
and I stole the show!”
Doddy himself topped the bill in Blackpool in 1958, at the
Central Pier, which led to appearances at the London
Palladium and on television. Starting in the 1960s,
he has had many television shows, including six series of
The Ken Dodd Show and four series of Ken Dodd and the Diddymen.
Top of the Hit Parade
Principally a stand-up comedian, Doddy has also had a
successful recording career, singing romantic ballads in a warm mezzo-tenor
In 1960 he signed with Decca and recorded Love Is
Like A Violin, which became a Top 10 hit. This was
followed by Once In Every Lifetime (1961) and
Pianissimo (1962). He moved to EMI’s
Columbia label, where Geoff Love was musical director, to
record Still (1963) and the enduringly popular
Doddy’s biggest hit was the weepie Tears (1965),
produced by Norman Newell. It spent five weeks at
number 1, and was the biggest selling single in the UK
that year. Tears sold nearly two million copies
and led to six further Top 20 hits for Doddy. Among these
were translations of three Italian ballads (The River,
Broken Hearted and When Love Comes Round Again)
as well as Promises, which was based on Beethoven’s
Doddy charted again in the 1970s with various singles,
including Think of Me (1976), which reached number 21.
In the 1980s he had one minor hit with Hold My Hand
Equally well-remembered are his comic songs, Where’s Me Shirt
and Song of the Diddymen (both 1965).
There are some recent radio interviews with Doddy at Celebrity Radio
(You might need to install the Macromedia Flash plug-in)
‘We Are the Diddy Men...’
Ken Dodd without the Diddymen is as unthinkable as Dr Who without the Daleks!
As his career began to embrace seaside resorts, where holidaymakers were the
principal audience for the shows, Doddy created the Diddymen to appeal to the
children in the audience. The ‘diddy’ men (‘diddy’ is
Liverpudlian slang for ‘little’) were intended to appeal to the
‘diddy’ members of the audience.
So were born Dicky Mint, Mick the Marmalizer, Evan, Hamish McDiddy, and Nigel
Ponsonby-Smallpiece, who work in the Jam Butty Mines at Knotty Ash. On stage,
the Diddymen are usually children or midgets, dressed in costumes, whereas on
television they were usually puppets.
Doddy occasionally appears with the Diddymen at Christmas, during Panto Season.
The rest of the year his audience is mostly composed of adults, and his stage act
includes only the Dicky Mint puppet, with whom he does a ventriloquist routine.
Doddy with today’s Diddy Men