OLDHAM Coliseum’s former house manager David Rustidge looks back on Sir Ken Dodd's legendary shows at the theatre, which - along with its audiences - the king of comedy was very fond of.

"Sir Ken Dodd, or “ Doddy”, appeared at the Oldham Coliseum Theatre on many occasions from the 1980s. He already had a big following, thanks to his many television and radio shows but most of the audience were to see him, live, for the first time at the Coliseum.

"They were amazed at the sheer drive and energy which Ken put into his live performance. He was far funnier live on stage, and interacted beautifully with all sections of the audience. They adored his big entrance, wearing his red overcoat , with tickling stick or drum to start his long first act.

"He always welcomed the imagined local mayor and wife with an outrageously suggestive pointing of the said tickling stick. And then we were off for hours of rip roaring entertainment which included the appearance of the famous Diddymen.

"When Ken first appeared at the Coliseum, he did two shows, one at 6pm and the next, theoretically at 8.40pm. The trouble was that the first show was so long that by the time the interval came at 8.30pm, the audience for the second show had arrived and were waiting in all the bars, staircases, any where they could. It made for an interesting exit of the first audience, trying to avoid the next audience as they attempted to get in.

"At future appearances, Ken resorted to the one show, "The Happiness Show”, which was the famous long, almost five hour stint, only broken by a quick interval and a couple of speciality acts and his partner, Anne Jones, who did a piano spot.

"He even used this House Manager to carry off his costume between parts of his act, when one noticed his hands had cue words and lines for him to refer to as he shifted the positioning of his microphone.

"After the show, often at 1am in the morning, Ken found time to sign souvenirs or meet long standing friends backstage as he ate his sandwiches and drink and recall his many years on the stage and his own favourite comics from the 50s like Arthur Askey and Robb Wilton. All this and sorting out his faithful dog which also accompanied him on his stage appearances.

"Theatre staff would eventually wave Ken off after his show, often at 3am in the morning, but somehow, they didn’t mind.

"He was a unique British entertainer, who, in the words of his famous song, brought Happiness to his fans near and far and Oldham Coliseum is proud to have witnessed his presence on its stage.

FORMER Oldham Coliseum chief executive Kenneth Alan Taylor has paid tribute to comedy legend Ken Dodd saying he loved the theatre and it's Oldham audiences.

Ken appeared at the Coliseum many times during the 80s, citing it as one of his favourite venues.

Actor Kenneth, whose history with the Coliseum goes back almost 50 years, described Ken - who died aged 90 - as a "wonderful person".

“I can’t remember how many times Ken came to the Coliseum, but he was such a wonderful person and I have so many lovely memories of him," said Kenneth.

"He was so generous with his time, he always had time for everybody and I took so many young actors to meet him.

"In the early days I remember going to see An Audience with Ken Dodd at Ken’s TV Studios.

"After the show I was standing in the bar and everyone who was anyone was there and Ken came straight up to me because he said, "You’re the chap from the Coliseum, it’s one of my favourite theatres," and out of everyone who was there, Ken came to me first - not because of me, but because of the Coliseum and Oldham’s audiences.”