top of page

Royal Court reveals plans for Sir Ken Dodd Happiness Centre

Liverpool’s Royal Court has plans to build a new £15m ‘Sir Ken Dodd Happiness Centre’ next to the theatre.

The four-storey centre, designed by architects Allford Hall Monaghan Morris (AHMM) would be built on the site currently occupied by the Courtyard Bar and Kitchen – formerly the Penny Farthing – which the theatre owns and runs.

The Courtyard would be relocated while work was carried out, with the current building demolished as part of the multi-million-pound plan - a collaboration between the Royal Court, Comedy Trust and Sir Ken Dodd Charitable Foundation.

The new centre, connected to the main theatre and with a giant ‘tickling stick’ outside, would then house Doddy’s archive and Happiness! exhibition, currently on display at the Museum of Liverpool, and celebrate his legacy and Liverpool’s rich comedy heritage.

It would offer space for comedy performances, talks, workshops and sessions – including using comedy to support wellbeing, as well as dressing rooms and office space.

And it would also house a new 100-cover restaurant.

Gillian Miller, chief executive of Liverpool’s Royal Court, said: “Liverpool is renowned all around the world for the wit and humour of its people. It’s about time the city had a building dedicated to celebrating that fact.

Above: Items from the Sir Ken Dodd archive are currently on show in a Happiness! exhibition at the Museum of Liverpool. Top: An architect's image of the new Sir Ken Dodd Happiness Centre.

“Sir Ken was Liverpool’s best-loved entertainer and one of the UK’s greatest ever comedians. He was a chart-topping singer, talented actor and accomplished ventriloquist, but his true passion was his natural gift for making us all laugh.

“We’re delighted to be working with the Sir Ken Dodd Charitable Foundation on this project that will form a part of such an important legacy.”

The Comedy Trust chief executive Sam Avery said: “The building will epitomise the late Sir Ken Dodd’s belief that comedy and humour are essential ingredients for life, creating happier, healthier people.

“We’re advocates of the power of humour for positive mental wellbeing, and are always exploring the evolving relationship between humour and health, as well as developing creativity, confidence and communication skills. This new centre will help us to reach more people from all around the region.”

Anne, Lady Dodd, with the Sir Ken Dodd mural outside the Royal Court.

And Anne, Lady Dodd, added: “I couldn’t be happier to support the building of a Sir Ken Dodd Happiness Centre. It was his lifelong dream to build a place where comedy is taken seriously, and he would be delighted to know that he was part of a building in the centre of Liverpool that leaves every visitor with a smile on their face.”

Allford Hall Monaghan Morris is the Stirling Prize-winning architect firm which was also involved in the extensive refurbishment of the Art Deco Royal Court in 2015. The £2.8m project garnered the firm several awards.

The new Sir Ken Dodd Happiness Centre is contingent on planning permission being granted by Liverpool City Council. If approval is granted, work could start in 2025 and the centre be opened in 2026.


bottom of page