Sid Sodd, Dorset's unluckiest comedian has died at the age of 90. Forever under the shadow of "a guy from Liverpool who's name we never mention but who was just brilliant", Sid was a journeyman comedian who, though he worked all of the Dorset venues and was even allowed to return to some of them, never quite rose to the top*.
Sid Sodd at the height of his decline. His cheeky catchphrase got him into a good deal of trouble until more liberal times when no-one cared.
Born into near poverty in a 2 up 2 down in the Dorset village of Bothenhampton in 1928, he attended Ringstead Bottom School and sang in the local church choir of Our Lady of the Broken Promises, Ridge where he was encouraged to sing by choir mistress Bee Flatt. "If truth be told, he was a better singer than he was a comedian and even had a top 500 hit with a version of "Fears Throughout The Years", but he always wanted to make people laugh. To be fair people laughed when he sang but that wasn't the point for him. He preferred it if they laughed at the jokes, which they never did", Ms Flatt recalled in 1962.
Following a stint in the army where he served briefly and without distinction in Malaya (1952) - he was charged with "lowering morale" before being released on medical grounds - Sodd returned to his parent's house in Bothenhampton where he was to remain for the rest of his life, dying in the house in which he was born.**
Always the "nearly man" "Soddy" struggled for recognition in a post war era that increasingly expected its entertainers to be talented. "Perhaps he'd have made a greater success of things in the good old days when having a silly hat and a catchphrase got you a national tour", reflects Music Hall historian Leonard Sachs-Coberg-Gotha, "but even then, he had no stagecraft. Sometimes when it was his turn to go on, people had to turn him the right way round before the curtain opened".
His most significant failure to break through came in 1956 when - as a support act for Leslie Crowther in the "Summer Review" at the Gaiety Theatre (now Threadbone Empire), Swanage - he tripped over a fire bucket and flew across the stage, breaking Crowther's leg and effectively ending both their careers. Television beckoned briefly and Sodd pitched an idea for a children's series based on small characters who made mince pies from resources buried in a mincemeat mine deep under Cretacious deposits in the West Lulworth area but Soddy's Little Slimy Men did not survive to the pilot stage. He was more than a little upset to see his Liverpudlian rival succeed in an area in which he had so conspicuously failed and briefly considered suing until Sue persuaded him not to.
Sid appeared with Leslie Crowther in Summer Review at at the Gaiety Theatre (now Threadbone Empire), Swanage in the summer of 1956. Neither's career survived the encounter.
Towards the end of his career, Sodd found himself making the odd Charity appearance (he opened the Sandbanks Summer Fete in 2001 but went through the event entirely unrecognised) and was briefly employed as the voice of Freda Fry in Radio 4's The Archers - a non-speaking role for which he was ideally suited. His last appearance was at the Winterborne Whitechurch Working Men's Club in 2012 but a failure to remember a single joke persuaded him that his time was up. "It was a sad sight", Winterborne Whitechurch Working Men's Club's Social Secretary - M T Diary - recalled, "he just sort of mumbled and when no-body laughed he shouted a version of his trademark catchphrase "Well you can all Sodd Off as well", pulled down his trousers and walked off". He was never to perform in public again.
Sid Sodd comedian and singer, b Bothenhampton 28 June 1928, d Bothenhampton 11 March 2018. m Susan (née Askey-Bygraves) 2018. He is survived by his widow and a camper van.
* The words belong to Sid's wife Sue and are quoted in HRH The Prince of Wales's "Daft Sodd: A Life of Dorset's Unluckiest Comedian"  [Duchy Original Biographies [Threadbone Press]]
** "He suffered terribly from flat jokes all his life and should never have been conscripted really". Quoted in Esther Rantzen "That Life: The Strange Life and Theatrical Death of Sid Sodd"  [Threadbone Press] NB. Esther's account should be taken with a pinch of salt. Sodd auditioned for the part of Cyril Fletcher in Rantzen's unfathomably popular Sunday night show "That's Life", but was beaten to it by Cyril Fletcher. "How unlucky can you get", was his wry comment at the time. "There I was, everything hunky-dory and bloody Cyril fetches up."