THE former manager of Southend’s Cliffs Pavilion has paid tribute to regular performer Sir Ken Dodd who has died aged 90.

The much-loved comedian and singer appeared on stage at the Cliffs no less than 20 times in his career, delighting audiences from across south Essex again and again.

For Chas Mumford, former manager of the venue, it was an honour many people will never forget.

He said: “The man himself was totally dedicated to his audiences but he was also very funny off stage.

“I had the occasional drink with him but he did really fully concentrate on his audience. He was famous for the length of his shows so if it was a 7.30pm start you knew he would be on well after midnight. He was absolutely unique.

“His many jokes and quick one-liners are second to none.”

Sir Ken had been a comedian since 1954 and was born in 1927. He made it into the Guinness Book of Records in the 1960s for telling 1,500 jokes in three-and-a-half hours.

After making his name in the music halls, his career in television and radio took off and he toured relentlessly across the UK. Sir Ken met his wife Anne when she appeared in the Ken Dodd Christmas Show at the Manchester Opera House in 1961. They married last week at the house where he grew up in Liverpool.

He had recently been released from hospital after treatment for a chest infection.

Mr Mumford said: “We always used to sell out very quickly whenever he announced a show in Southend, people would come to his shows again and again.

“Sometimes he would do two shows in one night.

“You’d start the first at 6pm and hope it would be finished by 8.30pm but it always overran and we used to have people standing in the foyer and all sorts of parking problems with 1,200 people attending each one.

“He used to say ‘this is going to be a war of attrition. I’m not leaving until everyone is laughing’. He really will be missed.”

Sir Ken was knighted in the 2017 New Year Honours for services to entertainment and charity.