Liverpool comedian Ken Dodd officially unveiled a bronze statue of himself created by local sculptor Tom Murphy at his city’s Lime Street train station.
The 81-year-old has been bringing laughter to people for many years since he made his professional debut at the now demolished Nottingham Empire 54 years ago.
Speaking in the concourse of the city train station where his honorary bronze statue stands, Dodd couldn’t help joking about it. He said: “I am very honoured and privileged. Happiness for me is arriving in Liverpool. It means I am coming home to the greatest city in the world.
“There was a waxwork statue of me in Madame Tussauds but I think they melted it down to make Leonardo DiCaprio.”
Knotty Ash-born Dodd is famous for his fast and rapid delivery of one-liners, but equally for carrying around his feather duster or – as he’d say – his “tickling stick”.
Controversy surrounded the comedian during the late 1980s and early 1990s when he was charged with income tax evasion, before he was acquitted three months later with the help of Blackpool-born lawyer George Carmen. Cufflinks showing scales of justice have been included on Murphy’s bronze statue to recall this difficult period in Dodd’s life.
Dodd is as famous for the length of his shows as much as the jokes he tells. During the earlier part of his career, he once told 1,500 jokes in three and a half hours in front of a rotating audience observing the spectacle in shifts.
More recently, Dodd has performed in front of Royal Family members at the 2006 Royal Variety Performance, where he reprised some of his most-known jokes, including ones about tax accountants as well as singing his renowned song ‘Happiness’.
This latest acknowledgment from his home city will be added to the honorary fellowship Dodd received from Liverpool John Moores University in 1997.
Neil Scales, chief executive and director general of Merseytravel which commissioned sculptor Murphy as part of its public art strategy, added: “Ken is a great ambassador for Liverpool who has helped millions of people by bringing laughter into their lives – and long may he continue to do so.”
Dodd’s statue, seen carrying an overnight bag and brandishing the famous feather duster, is part of a piece of public art known as ‘Chance Meeting’.
The self-proclaimed ‘Squire of Knotty Ash’ would often meet Labour MP Bessie Braddock, nicknamed ‘Battling Bessie’, at Lime Street on route to the London Palladium while she went to parliament.
As part of the commission, Murphy has also created a bronze statue of Braddock and the two Liverpool legends have been reunited as art work on the site of the former Virgin Trains welcome lounge at the station.
Braddock, who died in 1970, was an outspoken MP for the Liverpool Exchange constituency for 24 years and campaigned fiercely for the poor. She was often at Dodd’s shows and would bring the Prime Minister at the time, Harold Wilson, and his wife Mary along with her to watch the comedian perform at the Palladium.
Her bronze statue has her holding a handbag in one hand and an egg in the other, a recognition to her being the politician responsible for putting the lion print on eggs to show they were British standard quality.
At a ceremony held at 11am her cousin Rev Bill Letheren joined Doddy for the unveiling attended also by Murphy.
The artwork has taken the sculptor a year to complete and is part of Merseytravel’s capital investment programme, which funded around £2.5million towards a range of improvements to the inside of Lime Street station.
Murphy has previously been commissioned for other famous Liverpool icons including the 7ft bronze statue of John Lennon at Liverpool John Lennon Airport, when the airport was officially named after the former Beatle member in 2002. He also created bronze statues of football figures Dixie Dean of Everton FC in 2001 and Bill Shankly of Liverpool FC in 1997, both of which are located outside their club’s stadiums in the city.
A campaign has now been launched for Ken Dodd, who was also given a replica of his statue, to receive a Knighthood.
Dodd appears at the Palace Theatre in Manchester on Saturday 13 June and Blackpool’s Grand Theatre on Sunday 14 June.