Sir Ken Dodd: Fans turn out for comedian’s Liverpool funeral

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Sir Ken Dodd’s coffin was adorned with a decoration based on one of his Diddy Men

Fans of Sir Ken Dodd are paying their final respects to the comedian, whose funeral is taking place in Liverpool.

Members of the public lined the six-mile route taken by his funeral cortege from his Knotty Ash home to the Anglican cathedral in his home city.

Some sang his 1964 song Happiness as the horse-drawn hearse passed.

The much-loved funnyman, famous for his Diddy Men and tickling stick, died at the age of 90 this month. A private interment will follow the funeral.

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The funeral cortege was led by a horse-drawn hearse

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Some fans held up signs along the route of the funeral cortege

There was a round of applause from the crowd outside Sir Ken’s home as the cortege set off, and another when it arrived at the cathedral.

Actors Ricky Tomlinson, Stephanie Cole and Miriam Margolyes; comedians Jimmy Tarbuck, Stan Boardman and Jimmy Cricket; and TV executive Michael Grade are among the figures from the entertainment world at the service.

Tarbuck delivered a tribute during the ceremony, describing Sir Ken as “our city’s hero”.

He said: “I’m pleased for Ken that there’s yet another full house.

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A band played outside the cathedral – with the conductor using a tickling stick

“Was he a good comic? No – he was better than that. He was the greatest stage comedian I’ve ever seen in my life.

“Live on the stage, he set a standard which no one has remotely approached since.”

Stephanie Cole told the congregation Sir Ken was a “genius” who had “treated everyone equally”.

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Tickling sticks have been placed on statues in Liverpool, including one of The Beatles

“He was kind, he was thoughtful, he had a real wealth of knowledge – he was a real polymath,” she said.

“And always with a playful child inside him, never far away. I loved to talk to him about the mechanics of comedy and I learned so much from him.”

Hundreds of fans secured seats in the cathedral hours before the service began, and a large screen is outside for those who could not be accommodated inside. BBC Radio Merseyside is broadcasting the service live.

At the cathedral – Paul Burnell, BBC News online

The horse-drawn hearse arrived to warm applause as Sir Ken’s local brass band played a medley of his hits.

Hundreds of people massed outside the cathedral in biting wind to watch the funeral on a big screen.

Young and old sat or stood to honour one of their own, whose career spanned entertainment’s changes, from the music hall to podcasts.

Fans from all over the UK mixed with people on their lunch breaks to share anecdotes and shed a few tears among a sea of tickling sticks.

Meanwhile, tickling sticks like those Sir Ken famously waved were positioned on statues and public buildings in the city in his honour.

Flags at the Town Hall, St George’s Hall, Cunard Building and Central Library were lowered for the day as a mark of respect.

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Media captionLady Anne Dodd, the widow of Sir Ken Dodd, talks about the tributes paid to him

Sir Ken, one of Britain’s most recognisable entertainers, was born in 1927 in the suburb of Knotty Ash.

He died just days after marrying Anne Jones, his partner of 40 years, at their home.

Speaking to the BBC’s North West Tonight, she said the support she had received from Sir Ken’s fans had been “unbelievable”.

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Sir Ken was one of the UK’s best-loved entertainers for 60 years

“I couldn’t have imagined it would be as it has been,” she said. “We’ve had a tremendous amount of flowers.”

She attributed that in part to the “tremendous empathy” her husband had had “with people he knew and people he didn’t know”.

She told North West Tonight’s Roger Johnson: “You look at [the messages] and you know there’s so much love there. He loved his audience and he loved what he did.”

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