Comedy legend Sir Ken Dodd dies, aged 90

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Media captionSir Ken Dodd, who has died aged 90, on receiving his knighthood in 2016

Sir Ken Dodd, creator of the Diddy Men and one of the most popular comedians of his time, has died aged 90.

The Liverpool legend had recently been released from hospital after six weeks of treatment for a chest infection.

On Friday, he had married Anne Jones, his partner of 40 years, at their house, the same one he grew up in, in the Liverpool suburb of Knotty Ash.

“To my mind, he was one of the last music hall greats,” his publicist, Robert Holmes, said.

Sir Ken was famous for his very long stand-up shows – with which he was touring until last year – along with his Diddy Men and the tickling stick.

“He passed away in the home that he was born in over 90 years ago. He’s never lived anywhere else. It’s absolutely amazing,” added Mr Holmes.

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Sir Ken’s colourful tickling sticks were always a part of his show

Sir Ken had been a comedian since 1954 and was born the son of a coal merchant in 1927.

In the 1960s, he made it into the Guinness Book of Records for telling 1,500 jokes in three and a half hours.

After making his name in the music halls, his career in television and radio took off, as he brought national appeal to his regional, perhaps parochial humour.

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Sir Ken had received a knighthood at Buckingham Palace in 2017

He was a chart-topping singer too: his signature tune Happiness was released in 1964 and his single Tears was the third highest-selling song of the 1960s in Britain, beaten only by two Beatles singles.

Tributes have begun to pour in for Sir Ken, with Irish comic Dara O’Briain describing how he was “so happy” to meet him.

Fellow Liverpudlian and actress Claire Sweeney said he was a “legend and an inspiration”.

Referring to the length of Sir Ken’s comedy shows, comedian Gary Delaney also paid tribute on Twitter.

Sir Ken made his first professional appearance in 1954 at the Theatre Royal, Stockport, but it would be another decade before he made his West End debut, topping the bill at the London Palladium.

Throughout the 1970s and 80s, he was a regular face on TV and worked to a punishing schedule, which he kept throughout his career, seldom taking a holiday.

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He was famous for his wild hair, buck teeth, Diddymen and infamous “tickling stick”

But in 1989 Sir Ken faced the possibility of a fall from grace, during a 23-day trial, charged with eight counts of tax fraud spanning 15 years and involving more than £800,000.

He was later acquitted, but the court heard a range of stories about his eccentricity, including hiding more than £300,000 in wardrobes, cupboards and under stairs.

Taking up his career again on his acquittal, Sir Ken enjoyed another season at the London Palladium in 1990 and won a British Comedy Lifetime Achievement Award as well as being voted Top Variety Performer in 1993.