'A funny man who never had to resort to bad language' - Sunderland pays tribute to 'last of the real comedians' Sir Ken Dodd
Echo readers have been paying tribute to Sir Ken Dodd, the much-loved comedian who was as fond of Sunderland as its comedy fans were of him.
The comedy legend, who has died aged 90, was a regular visitor to the city and entertained thousands of Wearsiders over the years with his famously overrunning shows.
Sir Ken's first performance in Sunderland was in 1954, and in interviews with the Echo he said he always had a "soft spot" for the city and its "beautiful theatre", adding that Wearside and his home town of Liverpool produced more funnymen between than anywhere else.
He was so notorious for is mammoth, overrunning shows that bosses at St Mary's Car Park in Sunderland put up a sign before his show in 2013 warning that the facility would not be staying open late, in case people driving to the show had their cars locked in over night.
The Sunderland Empire was among those paying tribute to him today.
In a statement, the theatre said: "We’re incredibly saddened to hear of the passing of Ken Dodd.
"Ken was a true legend and played our stage many times over the years and we send our condolences to his wife Ann and his family and friends.
"His late night finishes were legendary and audiences would stay until the very end to see this comedy genius. RIP Ken, from all your fans at the Sunderland Empire."
Echo readers also filled our Facebook page with tributes to the performer, and recalled his appearances at the Sunderland Empire and elsewhere in the area.
Joe and Pam Stewart said "Brilliant shows . We saw him twice at the Empire . Very strange couple sat next to us at one of them . They never laughed once and left at the interval . We laughed all night. A great miss.
Irene Mackie said: "He wasn’t just a great comedian but a great Singer. RIP Doddy."
Pauline Swesi said: "My sister Deborah Bell met him when he opened Herrington Burn YMCA Fayre. She entered a competition for school kids she won and he named her Diddymint."
Rob Lynn said "(He was the) last of the real comedians: 1,500 jokes in 3.5hrs, no swearing needed."
Ann Work added: "Amazing comedian, never had to resort to bad language, or blue jokes to get a laugh, very funny, very underrated. Last of the greats."
Sheila Sanderson said: "I was at a show at the Empire did not finish until after 1am ...thought it was just a joke when he said did you bring your flask and butties, you're in for the long haul. .. brilliant show."
Sylvia Weetman said: "I went to them all enjoyed every one, and got a ticking stick. I'll remember him every time I use it to dust
Lee Hargreave added: "Aye, how tickled I was."
Iris Lamph said: "Great showman ."
Peter Ord said: "The current batch of stand-up 'comedians' could learn a lot from him, brilliant."
George Craig said: "Very funny man and was a down to earth man will be sadly missed RIP."
John Barry Hinton said: "Very sad. No-one could replace Doddy."
June Lewis said: "We saw his show once in Llandudno best show ever did not get home until past midnight. What a night."
Judith Wass said: "He was a very funny man he will be sadly missed rest in peace. God bless."
Stephen Hutchinson said: "RIP Ken Dodd. Such a funny man. I saw him five years ago at Whitley Bay. Absolute legend."