HE TICKLED us with his marathon stand-up shows and touched our hearts with his affable nature.

Theatre staff across Sussex have spoken warmly of “wonderful” comedian Sir Ken Dodd who died on Sunday at the age of 90.

The comic knew the county well having called in at all the major venues here in his relentless touring schedule.

“As soon as he had come through the door he’d start making fun of the staff and technicians,” said Sam McCarthy Fox, 73, a front of house employee at Worthing Theatres.

Sir Ken performed in Worthing in almost all of the 20 years that Sam has worked there. Sam added that Worthing Theatres were forced to charge Sir Ken extra if his show carried on past midnight, which it frequently did.

“Sometimes it would be 2am before we managed to get him on his way,” said Sam. “He would shuffle in like an old man but on stage he was like a 25 year-old. There was no stopping him.”

The only adjustment Worthing Theatres had to make to accommodate Sir Ken’s performance was to bring in special industrial-strength fans to help the comic cool off as the clock ticked towards midnight.

General manager of Eastbourne Theatres Gavin Davis met the comic on a number of occasions and found him to be an “absolute gentleman”.

Gavin remembered receiving a complaint from a group of holiday-makers who had attended one of Sir Ken’s routines. They felt it was absurd that a show that finished at 11pm had no interval.

“In fact, 11pm was the interval,” said Gavin. “The performance then carried on until 1.30am.”

Rosie Wells, meanwhile, remembers going to see Sir Ken at Brighton Dome 15 years ago, when she was heavily pregnant.

“I was expecting my daughter at the time and he made me laugh so much I thought the baby would come early,” she said.

“It started about 7pm and we didn’t leave until midnight. I thought he’d go on forever. Thank you for the memories and for making my tickle muscles ache.”

Sir Ken’s last appearance in Sussex was at Theatre Royal Brighton last summer. His Sunday night slot didn’t deter his audience from staying in their seats until midnight.

Laura Collins, press officer for the theatre, called the comic “one of a kind and a real showman.

“Sir Ken was a delight and we were proud to host one of the last performances by a national treasure and a comedy icon,” she said.

Entertainment reporter Edwin Gilson remembers interviewing Sir Ken Dodd in 2016

AN INTERVIEW with Sir Ken Dodd was like a mini stand-up routine for one.

I had been working at The Argus for only two weeks before I was dispatched to speak to the Liverpool-born comedian ahead of dates in Worthing and Eastbourne.

All it took was a simple “how are you?” to set off his famous quick wit.

“Lord Edwin, that’s a very posh name. How long have you been a journalist, all day?”

Sir’s marathon shows have been well-noted but I was still struck by the extraordinary enthusiasm for his art he displayed in our chat. While spontaneous gags clearly came naturally to him, it still requires extraordinary mental energy to achieve such a success rate.

When I asked if he was looking forward to the Sussex gigs, he replied, without hesitation: “It’s wonderful to be anywhere at my age.”

He wasn’t afraid to poke some fun at his audiences, too. Discussing his approach to stand-up he playfully sent up the audience in Eastbourne.

“I might say something like, ‘I’m looking out at the crowd here and I can see 50 shades of beige.’”

Dodd’s positive outlook shone through his work. He genuinely believed laughter is the best medicine – and anybody who has seen one of his shows would surely agree.

“People don’t go to a theatre to be miserable,” he told me. “Life is wonderful – every day is a good day.”