Comedy legend Sir Ken Dodd OBE has been immortalised in a bronze sculpture tribute at Blackpool Grand Theatre – a theatre at which his shows would often last hours.
Commissioned by the Friends of Blackpool Grand – of which Dodd was a founding member – and situated in the theatre's dress circle, the bronze has been created by sculptor Graham Ibbeson - previously responsible for sculptures of comedy greats Les Dawson, Eric Morecambe and Laurel and Hardy.
The Ken Dodd bust also features the comedian's famous tickling stick and Dicky Mint, one of his beloved Diddymen.
Ibbeson said: “To me, Ken Dodd was an absolute legend and the last of the great comedians of an era that made the transition from music hall to variety theatre and on to television.
"He was in his element on a stage. He loved live audiences, and those audiences loved him back. He gave me the honour of unveiling my Laurel and Hardy sculpture in Ulverston in 2009. He told the audience I was "eyeing him up for my next sculpture", which brought a roar of laughter. It wasn’t the next sculpture, but I was truly honoured to be asked; he was one of my heroes, I just hope I did him justice!”
Friends of The Grand chairman, John Grady, said: “Sir Ken was a very important founding member of the Friends and an invaluable supporter of this theatre, offering his time and talent many times to help raise money to save it from demolition back in the 1970s. Every year since the theatre reopened, he performed here, spreading joy and laughter. We wanted to officially recognise his incredible contribution to the Grand and the world of theatre as a whole.”
Lady Dodd said of the new sculpture: “I am truly honoured the Friends of the Grand want to commemorate Ken in this way and I felt very privileged to be invited to Graham’s studio, with members of the Friends committee, to see this wonderful sculpture evolve.
"Graham is a brilliant artist and my only input was to 'tickle up’ Ken’s hair a bit! I am thrilled to bits Ken will now be back at the Grand – a place I know he loved to be.”