Updated: Oct 3
Sir Ken Dodd, born on November 8, 1927, was a renowned English comedian celebrated for his sharp wit and infectious humor. He was hailed as one of the last music hall entertainers, captivating audiences for over six decades with his unique style. Dodd's journey began in the mid-1950s, gracing variety shows, but it was in the 1960s when he truly soared to stardom with his own show, "The Ken Dodd Show." His distinctive comedic flair, characterized by rapid-fire jokes and amusing songs, earned him a cherished place in British households.
Not only was Dodd a comedic genius, but he also enjoyed a successful singing career. His single, "Tears," emerged as the third-best-selling song of the 1960s in the UK, surpassing even The Beatles.
In recognition of his contributions to entertainment and charity, Dodd was knighted in the 2017 New Year Honours. His commitment to philanthropy was as unwavering as his dedication to bringing joy through laughter.
I had the pleasure of photographing Ken Dodd a few years before he passed away on March 11, 2018. Engaging with him was delightful, as he proved to be a wonderful and entertaining conversationalist. I had the privilege of spending over an hour with him, and capturing his essence through my lens was an enjoyable experience. He jokingly expressed his dissatisfaction with his haircut, claiming the barber had trimmed it too short, and humorously wondered if I could return when it had grown a bit longer. I was content with him just the way he was.
My late father, held a deep admiration for Ken Dodd, and he was a great fan of his comedy. During the 1960s, while working as a test pilot for Hovercraft, my father had the honour of taking Ken Dodd for a ride. My father fondly remembered how the press playfully drew attention to the striking similarity between Dodd and his buck teeth. A newspaper even featured a cartoon showcasing Ken Dodd and my father side by side, aboard the Hovercraft. I would have loved to have seen their cartoon, but all of this occurred before I was born. Intrigued, I once asked Ken Dodd if he recalled meeting my father, to which he wittily complained about the noisy and jolting ride!
While photographing Ken Dodd, I sought to capture not only his usual playful demeanour, but also a glimpse of his other side. There was a moment when he gazed into the dressing table mirror, appearing slightly older and weary. It felt as though the reflection in the mirror encapsulated the weight of his many years in the spotlight.
I encountered him once more, this time accompanied by my Father. I purchased tickets for both of us and attended one of his performances in Salisbury. The show stretched from 7pm until the early hours of 2am in the morning!
Dodd's legacy continues to influence comedians and entertainers around the globe. His ability to connect with audiences through laughter is a testament to his talent and his lasting impact on the world of entertainment.