LEGENDARY entertainer Ken Dodd is planning to bring more than a little happiness to Bolton this weekend. 

The 86-year-old will be at the Albert Halls on Saturday to tell stories, perform jokes and live music in a show which promises plenty of variety and laughter.

Ahead of the show, people are told to expect a very late finish and Ken says: “I don’t do long shows, I give good value – and the doors aren’t locked.”

He will be joined by an array of talented entertainers including ukulele, banjo-uke, guitar and violin player Andy Eastwood and Dicky Mint.

This year marks Ken’s 60th year in the business, after he made his professional debut in 1954 and he is thrilled to still be entertaining audiences with his cheerful and optimistic brand of comedy.

Ken, who clocks up a staggering 100,000 miles every year on tour, said: “A lot of comedy material does look at the dark side of life.

“There’s a rainbow of laughter. Right at the top is the laughter of joy, you can hear that any time you pass a school playground, the sheer joy of being alive.

“Right at the bottom are the dark colours of satire, insult and irony. There’s room in show business, and particularly these days, for all kinds of laughter. All kinds of jokes.”

Ken, whose string of hit songs include Love Is Like A Violin and his signature tune Happiness, has played Bolton and the surrounding towns many times during his impressive career and has great affection for two stars of yesteryear  -  comedian Frank Randle, who was born in Aspull, near Wigan, and Farnworth comedienne, actress and music hall star Hylda Baker.

Ken, who is in The Guinness Book of Records for telling 1,500 jokes in three-and-a-half hours, said: “Frank Randle’s my hero. He was an inspiration for lots and lots of comedians. He was a very funny man, one of the funniest men ever.

“My first television show was March 11, 1955, on the BBC with two people. One was me, the other was Hylda Baker who had 30 years in the business and she became a star overnight.

“It did me a lot of good as well, in those days there was only one channel. I had made it. Two people from that one show became, overnight, instantly recognisable faces all over Britain.

“She was a very clever lady, quite unique. In 1955, it was like a lot of things, ladies would have to stay at home. It was a man’s world.

“Hylda was very brave, not only was she a great entertainer, she ran her own shows.  She employed artists and gave them work.”

Just a little after 10 years turning professional, Ken made his debut at the famous London Palladium where he enjoyed an unprecedented record-breaking 42 week sell-out season.

Ken, recipient of the prestigious Living Legend award from The British Comedy Society, said: “Show business has changed of course. Everything changes, every day, and show business is no exception.

“At one time you would go to a theatre, in the old days, you’d just hang your suit up because it was all there – the mic and all the equipment and you stayed for a week or a fortnight. Now it’s all one night gigs.

“It’s changed because show business has so many different components, radio and TV and computers. It’s a battle for audiences and a battle I enjoy.

“I’ve got to get new material every time. I try to do about 10 or 12 new jokes every time I do a show. It keeps me fresh, keeps my brain fresh and it means when I get back to somewhere like Bolton, I’ve got a new act, new songs.

“Live music, none of this miming stuff.

“It’s an ongoing tour, it keeps me young. It keeps my brain going too.”

Ken Dodd’s Happiness Show is at the Albert Halls on Saturday, May 31, call 01204 334 400 for tickets.