Welcome to Then and Now, where each week we compare images of Manchester streets, landmarks, buildings and events from bygone days with today.

Our main image this week shows a long queue of youngsters auditioning to be Ken Dodd’s Diddy Men winding round Manchester’s Opera House. The date is November 1973.

The popular comedian was recruiting for his Ken Dodd Laughter Spectacular at the theatre in Quay Street – and was overwhelmed with applicants!

Liverpudlian singer and funnyman Dodd was no stranger to Manchester as he recorded two TV shows in the city in the 1960s.

The Knotty Ash entertainer was the host of Doddy’s Music Box produced at the ABC studios in Manchester from 1967 to 1968.

His co-presenter was Manchester-born disc jockey David Hamilton, christened Diddy David by Dodd. The name stuck throughout his career!

queues outside the Opera House in Manchester an hour before the Diddymen auditions 1973
The biggest pop names of the day appeared on the show, including the Beatles, Rolling Stones and David Cassidy as well as Manchester bands the Hollies and Freddie and the Dreamers.

Dodd was also the star of the BBC show Ken Dodd and the Diddy Men, filmed at the Dickenson Road studios in Rusholme from 1969 to 1972.

The diminutive Diddy Men characters came from Merseyside folklore along with the treacle and jam butty mines of Knotty Ash. Another Liverpool entertainer, Arthur Askey, often referred to them in his stage act.

Our modern image from September 2016 shows Salford actor John Thomson in a photo-call for the Opera House pantomime Aladdin.

Thomson played the evil villain Abanazar while Sherrie Hewson – Maureen Webster in Coronation Street – was the Genie of the Ring.

*Many more images from Then and Now are featured in The Changing Face of Manchester on sale now at £14.99.

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