Ken Dodd and the end of a slapstick era

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In the 1960 s and ‘7 0s, a Ken Dodd Summer season in Blackpool would often begin at Whitsuntide and end at Christmas.

He would play twice a day Monday to Friday, three times on Saturday and he would be filling a 3,000 -seat theatre every time, a place bigger than the London Palladium.

Then, on a Sunday, he would play another venue in another town.

Often it would be Blackpool’s northern rival Scarborough. That’s more than a million pay customers in total.

Image caption Blackpool is the spiritual home of comedians like Ken Dodd

Forty years on, his most regular Scarborough haunt, the Futurist, is being knocked down. The other two summer season theatres, the Floral Hall and the Opera House, have both long since gone.

However, if you want to understand Ken Dodd, it helps if you remember something of this era at the tail end of variety and music hall.

Modern comedy has divided in to two. At the bottom are the small clubs of traditional stand-up. The crowd is usually young and well lubricated. At the top are the select band of TV starrings who can play the really big tours.

Tributes to ‘brilliant’ comic Ken Dodd Tattyfilarious: 17 of Ken Dodd’s best gags Tickling sticks and tears for Doddy Image caption Sir Ken Dodd harked back to the good old days on the BBC’s The Good Old Days

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