Les Dawson's first time hosting Blankety Blank
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The much-loved late funny man will have his life examined in ITV’s ‘Les Dawson: The Lost Tapes’, which is set to air at 9pm tonight to celebrate what would have been his 90th birthday. Never-before-seen archive footage will help chronicle the Manchester-born comic’s life, revealing a more private side than the larger-than-life public persona he was famed for. Dawson, who died of a heart attack in 1993 aged 62, was well-known for his trademark gurn and for performing an array of characters that drew on his northern roots.
ITV said its documentary celebrating Dawson’s life has involved the comedian’s wife Tracy and his daughter Charlotte, as well as a host of famous faces.
Jason Manford, Omid Djalili, John Thomson, Brendan O’Carroll and Dawson’s pals Ruth Madoc and Gloria Hunniford have all made contributions.
As well as being popular in the world of showbiz, Dawson was also a hit in Buckingham Palace, according to Dawson’s wife Tracy.
Prince Philip, the Queen’s late husband, was said to be a huge fan of the comedian’s routines and the work he did for the Duke of Edinburgh’s charities.
Tracy said the unlikely pair used to joke about black pudding, a blood-based sausage, originating from Lancashire near where Dawson grew up.
“Prince Philip adored Les. They had a great relationship,” she told the Daily Express in 2007.
She added: “Les used to do a lot for Philip’s charities.
“They had this running joke about black pudding and whether you should fry it or boil it.”
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Black pudding is a delicacy that is traditionally made by heating pig’s blood until it is congealed, and can be served fried, boiled or served cold.
Dawson said his appearance at the 1991 Royal Variety Performance at London’s Victoria Palace in front of the Queen and Prince Philip was one of the highlights of his career.
In his early days Dawson had enrolled in the Army, before later claiming to have found work as a pianist in a brothel in Paris.
His first big break came when he appeared on the talent show, ‘Opportunity Knocks’ in 1967, which cemented his position on British television screens.
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The public cherished Dawson’s routines, in which he and comedic actor Roy Barraclough played elderly women Ada Shufflebotham and Cissie Braithwaite.
The classic sketch will be given a new lease of life when Jason Manford and John Thomson perform their own version as part of the new ITV documentary.
Tracy, who has already seen the sketch, told the Daily Star it is “fabulous.”
She added: “Les would be absolutely over the moon. John plays Ada like Les used to years ago.
“And when I looked away from the screen and just listened, it was like it was Les talking. John is so good.”
A talented pianist, Dawson also made a name for himself by deliberately hitting wrong notes while playing classical compositions.
As well as being a performer he also penned 13 books, including ‘A Card For The Clubs’, a novel about a washed-up stand-up comedian struggling his way through the club circuit.
His daughter, Charlotte, 28, has also found TV fame, including appearing on reality programme, ‘Celebs Go Dating’.
In January of this year the star gave birth to her son Noah, the child of her fiancé Matt Sarsfield.
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