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Classic TV Revisited: Ken Dodd And The Diddy Men

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Sally Ann: The Reluctant Chosen (ITV 9 Dec 1979, with Mark Wynter)

Enter the strange variety filled world of Ken Dodd and the Diddy Men that came from Knotty Ash via Blackpool. Ken Dodd and the Diddy Men ran on BBC One in the late sixties and early seventies.

Shocking stuff?
More absurd. Manic-haired jester Ken Dodd spouted nonsense such as “tattifilarious” while wielding a tickling stick, actually a feather duster, and surrounded by a diminutive army of puppets called Diddy Men.

And was it tattifilarious or titti-awful?
Hardly up there with the comedy greats with its simplistic humour, but tickled the kids of the era.

Ken doddered from?
He was born Kenneth Arthur Dodd on November 8, 1927, and raised in Knotty Ash, Liverpool.

It actually exists?
Yes.

Roots?
As a young man started out as a ventriloquist and developed an act called Professor Yaffle Chuckabutty, the Operatic Tenor and Sausage Knotter.

Bit of a mouthful?
Especially for a chap with buck teeth caused by a cycling accident during childhood.

Breakthrough?
Young Dodd served his time including summer seasons in Blackpool before being snapped up by TV. He had also developed a successful recording career with his haunting falsetto.

A crooner?
Specialising in romantic ballads, he notched up seven top 20 hits. Tears spent five weeks at number one in 1965. His best-known song is Happiness.

Melted hearts?
Remarkable considering his wacky appearance.

Diddy men?
Dodd first developed the group to appeal to the children in the audience when performing at seaside resorts.

Diddy?
Liverpudlian slang for little.

Who were the Diddymen?
Mick The Marmalizer, Hamis McDiddy and Nigel Ponsonby-Smallpieces were just some of the mob.

From?
Jam butty mines in Knotty Ash, Diddyland. It had the world’s highest sunshine rate. Also featured snuff quarries, moggie ranch and gravy wells.

Jokes?
Looking daft, Dodd would unleash one-liners, peppered with words like tattifilarious. His catchphrase was “How’re you diddling, Missus?”. Hilarious. Well, today he’s admired by the likes of Johnny Vegas.

Fate of the show?
Lasted for four series and from there Dodd moved on to prime-time, all-the-family aimed programmes such as The Ken Dodd Laughter Show and Ken Dodd’s World Of Laughter.

Sex shocker involving Diddy Men?
Nothing so sordid. He became the focus of a much-publicised tax-dodging case which revealed much about the man behind the mirth.

Like what?
QC George Carman argued he was a thoroughbred eccentric and was hopeless at maths. Dodd was cleared.

Dodd today?
The comic had a revival in the ’90s and held court before a celeb audience in ITV1’s An Audience With… series. The first one went out in ’94 and he did another in 2001. He’s in his late 80’s now and still occasionally performing. He was a Knight of the Realm this year.

Distinguishing features?
Dishevelled hair, buck teeth, a curious turn of phrase and a feather duster.

Do say:
“Tattifilarious”, “How’re you diddlin, missus?”

Don’t say:
“Do you plan to do any cleaning with that feather duster Mr Dodd?”, “Can I put you in touch with a good dentist?”

Not to be confused with:
Kenny Everett, Ken Morley and Dixon of Dod Green.

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