As calls have been made for a museum to much-loved Lytham funnyman Les Dawson, we take a look back at some wonderful black-and-white archive photographs of the Fylde coast favourite.
Les was born in Collyhurst, in Manchester, and worked briefly as a journalist at the Bury Times.
He admitted he endured school, rather then enjoyed. He didn’t excel in most subjects, but was told by teachers he “had the talent to be a fine writer.”
Les later said: “I found the key that would admit me into the schoolyard society... I became the daft one, the idiot, the one who made all the others laugh.
“It wasn’t really all that hard to do. I was small and chubby. I could pull side-splitting faces and I had a gift for mimicry.”
After school, as a typical teenager, he drifted from job to job. Following National Service, he briefly played piano in a brothel in Paris. It was after a series of failed auditions, he found his unique style – that deadpan delivery, that curmudgeonly persona.
Les made his television debut on the talent show Opportunity Knocks in 1967, kicking off his lifelong, prominent comic career on British television. He didn’t win the show, but it raised his profile, and his fame spread through the entertainment world.
His own TV shows followed – Sez Les, The Dawson Watch, The Les Dawson Show and Blankety Blank, as well as countless theatre appearances. He was a talented pianist, but developed a gag in which he played a familiar piece such as Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata and then introduced hideously wrong notes (yet not destroying the tune) without appearing to realise, smiling unctuously and relishing the accuracy and soul of his own performance.
Among his comic creations, were Cissie and Ada – which he became with Roy Barraclough – northern, working-class women who would mouth certain words in their conversations – particularly those pertaining to bodily functions and sex.
Les was a prolific writer, penning several serious novels, and his autobiographies.