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EXCLUSIVE: Wonderful Wirral - why it has the WOW factor according to Ken Dodd
Kenneth Arthur Dodd and Wirral go back a long way.
He has real fondness for the area and he continues to play one of his favourite venues twice a year - the New Brighton Floral Pavilion.
He's back at the theatre on June 1 and says he always looks forward to the dates."Wirral audiences have big hearts, warm and friendly," he says in an exclusive interview with the Wirral Globe.
Doddy now in his 60th year in show business - what he calls his "Jolly Jubilee" - says he had his first paid show in Wirral.
"It was in Ellesmere Port at the Flatt Lounge - they remunerated me...by Jove! Yes, I got paid."
The rest is history - going on to play Nottingham Empire in 1956 in his first professional date - to breaking box office records at the London Palladium, selling millions of records, becoming a ratings-winner on telly and radio and featuring in films such as Kennth Brannagh's Hamlet.
The much-travelled, much-loved comedy legend knows the Merseyside area like the back of his hand.
He has a real soft spot for Wirral.
"Wirral has the WOW factor for so many reasons- places like Parkgate- unique where the sea went out and never came back.
"I love the sunsets - so do the audiences; that's what they see when they leave one of my shows."
Doddy can reel off the clubs, theatres he has played in his diamond-studded career.
From the Tivoli to the BIC social club.
And putting his hands through his trademark hair and flashing those famous teeth he smiles: "Not many comedians can say they started their career at the fabulous Irby Pig Club."
But he reflects on New Brighton as a "garden of delights."
Hoylak,e he says, should be applauded for the 'Festival of Thirsts' then adds with a chuckle, "Sorry, I meant Festival of Firsts - a celebration of the arts."
Heswall he says is wonderful for scenery - "fur coats and culture."
He has fond memories of playing the Tower Ballroom, Egremont Comrades Club and regrets never having played Birkenhead's Argyle Theatre.
He talks of gigs in Tranmere, Bromborough, Bebington, Hesketh Hall in Port Sunlight and Bidston.
Doddy's memory is astonishing and he smiles when he says he really does have a "giggle map" of the UK - and Wirral is on it.
" I always thought that going to Wirral was like going abroad. Getting your passport stamped as you board the wonderful ferries."
He says one abiding memory was going on the first hovercraft ride from Moreton to Rhy - "It broke down in Wales - we got the bus back, " he recalls.
As one Mersey memory leaves, another comes sailing in.
"I won a talent contest in the late 1940s at New Brighton - a waxed gramophone record of my act and I got a ten-bob note."
He enjoyed judging Miss United Kingdom in the resort and remembers the open air swimming pool.
Doddy says he is looking forward to The Happiness show on June 1.
"it is a variety show of individuals and their skills - with my special guests, including the one and only Dicky Mint.
"You don't just watch the shows, YOU, the audience, are in it."
He says he will always look in the Wirral Globe for some topical inspiration when he plays the peninsula.
And so Ken, do you have a message for Globe readers?
"Ever since Viking ruler Rufus the Ever Ready leapt ashore at Leasowe, he loved the tea and chips.
"I am a human yo-yo up and drive up and down the country, but it's great to come home to Wirral
'Whimsically wonderful' - that's how I see it.
"So come and see me Dicky Mint and our variety stars.
"Dicky Mint is keen to cross the water on the ferry - he's planning to set up a marmalade stream in Meols and a treacle farm in Tranmere.
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