07 November 2013

Ken Dodd opens new exhibition about his career at the Museum of Liverpool

By Tom Dootson

A new exhibition was opened today by Ken Dodd at the Museum of Liverpool, Doddy came along to look at the photos which span throughout his career. The photos were taken by Stephen Shakeshaft.

Beginning his career at the Liverpool Daily Post & Echo in 1962, one of Stephen Shakeshaft’s earliest assignments was to photograph ‘Doddy’. A friendship blossomed between the pair, and a bond of mutual respect and trust has allowed Stephen to become an intimate observer of Ken Dodd’s career.

Displaying photographs that are candid, poignant, affectionate and amusing – many taken from the wings during performances – this exhibition will feature just some of the shots Stephen’s taken over the years of Liverpool’s best-loved entertainer doing what he does best.

Ken Dodd said of the exhibition: “One of the greatest pleasures in my life is seeing photographs of Liverpool’s skyline, and I’m highly honoured to be part of an exhibition in a fantastic museum, on this beautiful waterfront. I can’t quite believe that people would want to come and see pictures of me! It’s very touching.

“Stephen Shakeshaft is one of my favourite people, and the only photographer I allow to photograph me candidly. He’s a fantastic photographer, who takes a real interest in his subjects. Stephen doesn’t just take a photograph, he produces a situation. Every one of his pictures tells a story and means something.”

Curator Paul Gallagher said: “Stephen has been taking photographs of local icons throughout his career, but having seen the honesty and warmth captured in his shots of Ken, it’s quite clear they have developed a particularly special relationship that has enabled Stephen to portray a rarely-seen side of Ken Dodd.

“His personal archive of images showing Ken as both the entertainer and the man is absolutely fantastic. As a curator, it’s been a gift to have so many images to work with. The only difficult part has been choosing which photographs could make it into the exhibition, as sadly we don’t have space to display the hundreds that Stephen has of Ken.”

The exhibition will feature around 50 images of Ken Dodd taken by Stephen Shakeshaft over five decades, in a variety of locations and situations. Whether it is relaxing in the dressing room with a pint, clowning around with some young fans or hanging out with his best mate Dickie Mint, Stephen has been there for a great many moments in Ken Dodd’s career, and this exhibition features some of the highlights.

Stephen said: “Ken Dodd is an icon for many in terms of comedic talent and Liverpool pride. I have been lucky enough to photograph the man himself on stage, back stage and at the many events he has attended over the years where he has put smiles on people’s faces with his unwavering Scouse wit and charm.

“This exhibition is not just about how people see Ken Dodd as a comedian but what he is like when he’s preparing for a show and what he’s like on stage from a more intimate perspective in the wings.

“I look forward to seeing the reactions of visitors to the exhibition at the Museum of Liverpool, and hope it will spread a bit of the ‘happiness’ that Ken so effortlessly prescribes to all who watch him and have been lucky enough to meet him, including myself.”

As one of Britain’s funniest comedians, Ken Dodd is still entertaining audiences up and down the country, and will celebrate 60 years in the business in 2014. He will be closing his ‘Happiness Show’ tour at Liverpool Philharmonic Hall at the end of this year on 28 and 29 December.

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