Les Dawson was one of Britain’s all time great comedy talents, best known as a comedian but also a talented musician, writer and actor. This programme traces his career, with familiar favourite TV clips and some rare gems from the archives. Together with interviews from friends, relatives and colleagues, the programme unpicks the secrets of his enduring legacy nearly 20 years after his untimely death.
After ‘discovery’ on the Opportunity Knocks talent show in the 60s, he quickly became a regular face on TV, hosting comedy-led variety shows like Sez Les and The Les Dawson Show. His trademarks were short, pithy jokes, usually targeting his wife or mother in law, long verbose monologues and, perhaps most famously, piano recitals that went hilariously off key.
His reputation attracted guest appearances from some unexpected fans like John Cleese and Shirley Bassey, and he created an overweight dance troupe, The Roly Polys.
The programme shows how his career unfolded and illustrates the different facets of his comedy genius. John Cleese remembers their unlikely friendship, modern comedy stars Robert Webb and Russell Kane talk about his inspiration and Dawson’s widow Tracy recalls their marriage and his joy at being a father late in life.