Arthur Askey and the Diddymen, 1974
Did you know that Ken Dodd didn’t invent the Diddymen? Arthur Askey, another Liverpudlian comic, talked about them, treacle mines and all, in the early years of his act in the 1920s. But he didn’t invent them either, they’d been part of local folklore in this part of the country for much longer. I don’t have any more information about their origins though, I would love to know more.
Here’s a 1974 Arthur Askey interview from Russell Harty Plus, where he mentions the Diddymen and sounds ever so slightly ticked off that Ken Dodd was much more successful with them.
He was told when he went to London as a young comedian,
“We think you’re going to be very good, Arthur, but you must drop that Liverpool accent. You must get rid of your accent and you mustn’t talk about Diddy Men or jam butty factories or treacle mines.” Of course, Ken Dodd comes along thirty-odd years later and, through radio and television, they know what he’s talking about. But in those days I was doing missionary work, you know!”
Oh, and I like the sound of his untheatrical wife, who he claims had barely any idea of what he did for a living,
“My wife – I always used to say that she thought I was a burglar. She knew I went out at night to do something, but she wasn’t quite sure what it was. When I got my O.B.E. (I must drag that in), I said to my wife: “Do come along to Buckingham Palace to see me get this.” And she said: “What time is it?” I said, “Half past ten”. She said: “I can’t go at half past ten. I’ve got my work to do. It’s all right for the Queen, she’s got staff.”