A Kirkheaton man who was friends with Sir Ken Dodd for more than 30 years has spoken of his sadness at the star’s death.
George Wilkinson, 71, has spent more than five decades in the entertainment industry and while some people boast about being ‘Friends of the Stars’, George really is.
Years ago he provided specialist help for Ken when he was arrested on tax evasion charges – his second wife Jane enjoyed a considerable degree of tax expertise.
Sir Ken, creator of the Diddy Men and the last of the great music hall comedians, died on Sunday aged 90.
The Liverpool legend had spent six weeks in hospital being treated for a chest infection and had only recently been allowed home.
On Friday, he had married Anne Jones, his partner of 40 years, at their house, the same one he grew up in, in the Liverpool suburb of Knotty Ash.
Mr Wilkinson, 71, said: “I’ve been talking to his wife, Lady Anne, and she sounded fine. They were marvellous at the hospital and allowed her to stay over on a camp bed. He was unable to swallow at the end.”
Asked how he would remember Sir Ken, he said: “There were so many stories it’s hard to know where to start.
“I do remember an occasion at Hatfield Country Club near Doncaster years ago when he had forgotten to pack a dinner suit and I had to go round the audience asking if there was anyone who lived nearby who could lend him a dinner suit.
“There was no limit to what he could do as a comedian. I recall him once singing in Welsh and thinking where did that come from?
“And I was with him on the day he got arrested over tax in Barnsley. That was an uncomfortable time.”
And he still keeps the seven unforgettable Christmas cards he was sent by the TV funny-man with the tickling stick.