Sir Ken Dodd

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PA Media

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Sir Ken Dodd was a passionate admirer of Shakespeare, his widow Lady Anne Dodd said

Sir Ken Dodd’s widow has pledged £700,000 through the comic’s foundation to build a mini-amphitheatre.

The outdoor venue will form part of the Shakespeare North Playhouse project, due to open in Prescot in 2022.

The Merseyside town once had the only purpose-built Elizabethan theatre outside London, and it now hopes to form a new “Bard triangle” with London and Stratford-upon-Avon.

Lady Anne Dodd said Sir Ken would have been “thrilled to bits” to help.

The Ken Dodd Charitable Foundation initially put in £250,000 but will raise that amount to £700,000 to complete a so-called performance garden.

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Shakespeare North Trust/Knowsley Council

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The interior of the theatre has been designed to be built to a 1629 design

Lady Anne said: “Ken’s real love was the theatre and Liverpool, and he set up the foundation years ago.

“I’m now able to use the money and his legacy to fund a lot of wonderful projects, one of which is this Shakespeare North Playhouse theatre.

“Ken was approached a couple of years before he passed, and he was absolutely delighted to be able to help.”

Sir Ken, famous for his unique stand-up shows and trademark tickling sticks, died aged 90 in 2018.

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PA Media

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Lady Anne Dodd said her husband would have been “thrilled” to help

Lady Anne said she would like to see famous quotations from Shakespeare on the steps of the amphitheatre – but interspersed with some of Sir Ken’s own quirky phrases.

The comic was known exclaim ‘How tickled I am’, ‘tattyfilarious’ and ‘plumptious’.

The planned £30m playhouse has been designed with more than 450 seats, based on the 17th century “cockpit-in-court” style.

“Ken just loved Shakespeare because of the words, he was such a wordsmith,” continued Lady Anne.

“Way back in 1971 Ken played Malvolio in Twelfth Night. Some people thought he might not stick to the script, but he was word-perfect from the first day. He got wonderful reviews.

“Ken would be really thrilled to bits. He would have loved it.”

The interview will be shown on BBC One’s The One Show at 19:00.

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