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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 ... See full summary »


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Episode complete credited cast:
Les Dawson Les Dawson ... Self / Various Characters (archive footage)
Sally Phillips ... Self - Narrator (voice)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Louis Barfe Louis Barfe ... Self
Ian Boldsworth Ian Boldsworth ... Self (as Ray Peacock)
John Cleese ... Self / Various Characters
Tracy Dawson Tracy Dawson ... Self
Norman Evans Norman Evans ... Over the Garden Wall (archive footage)
Russell Kane Russell Kane ... Self
Royston Mayoh Royston Mayoh ... Self - TV Producer
Mo Moreland Mo Moreland ... Self / Comedy Role
Terry Ravenscroft Terry Ravenscroft ... Self - Writer
Robert Webb ... Self


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 ... Written by Anonymous

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Routine Bio-Doc of the Great British Comedian
28 November 2014 | by l_rawjalaurenceSee all my reviews

THE MANY FACES OF ... LES DAWSON tells the story of the Manchester comic who spent many years working in the harsh world of the northern clubs before finding stardom as the winner of OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS in the late Sixties.

Thereafter his progress up the ladder of fame was gradual if unspectacular; eleven seasons of SEZ LES for Yorkshire Television, followed by THE DAWSON WATCH for the BBC. Throughout these years he perfected his art of stand-up comedy, his lugubrious features and impeccable timing rendering him especially popular with audiences. Dawson was not a joke-teller per se; he preferred the shaggy-dog story, illustrated with ever-increasing flights of linguistic fancy, followed by the bathetic ending. He was also a master of facial expressions, especially the northern art of gurning.

As his television career evolved, so his selection of comic party-pieces expanded to encompass the lecherous Cosmo Smallpiece, the legendary duo of Cissie and Ada, two northern women modeled on the old music-hall act of Norman Evans (which Dawson performed with Roy Barraclough), and the wrong-note piano-playing. Dawson was an accomplished pianist in his own right, and it took a considerable amount of daring to learn how to play the wrong rather than the right notes to raise laughs.

In the Eighties Dawson continued to enjoy televisual success as he took over from Terry Wogan as the host of BLANKETY BLANK. Dawson was happy to make fun of the format, the contestants, and the panel, but he did so in such a way as not to offend anyone. He helped keep the comedy quiz show at the top of the ratings, and was just about to move into a straight acting career when he died in 1993 of a heart attack.

The overriding impression of this biography was that Dawson was a fundamentally nice person - well-read, well-educated and highly intelligent. John Cleese, one of the interviewees, wondered whether the comedian might not have moved into documentary presentation, if he had been allowed to continue his career. Many of the clips used to illustrate the bio have become familiar over time, but they still reveal Dawson's mastery of timing, proving beyond doubt that some humor is timeless.

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Release Date:

24 December 2011 (UK) See more »

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Production Co:

Green Inc. Production See more »
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