Ken Dodd has been appointed patron of the £19 million Shakespeare North Playhouse in Merseyside.
Dodd, a Liverpool native, made his Shakespearean acting debut in Twelfth Night at the Liverpool Playhouse in 1971. He will become patron of the new venue, which is set to begin construction in early 2018.
The theatre will be built near the site of a 16th-century Elizabethan playhouse in Prescot, which is thought to have had connections with Shakespeare.
It will feature a 330-set auditorium – built to 1629 designs by theatre architect Inigo Jones – as well as education and community facilities.
Dodd’s appointment comes as Arts Council England confirms £5 million of central government funding for the project, first announced in the March 2016 budget .
The Arts Council has now endorsed the business plan submitted by Knowsley Council and the Shakespeare North Trust, confirming the funding.
John Flaherty, executive director at Knowsley Council, said: “This is a fantastic achievement and a key milestone for Shakespeare North Trust and Knowsley Council.
“Not only does it mean we now have £11m of confirmed funding, but it is also a huge seal of approval and vote of confidence from the Arts Council that the Shakespeare theatre and education centre is a viable and sustainable business.”