Les Fact File

Did you know Les Dawson once worked as a pianist in a Parisian brothel? Here are some more interesting facts you might not know about the legendary Northern comedian.

Les Fact File
  • Les struggled at school but he did love English. His teacher Bill Hetherington once read out one of his essays in class and said 'you have the talent to be a fine writer'.
  • At school he became the daft one, the idiot, the one who made all the others laugh.
  • Les joined a boxing club at a local youth club. An opponent smashed his jaw with a juddering punch and from then on he was able to pull his chin over his nose and pull grotesque faces - something that proved very useful in later life.
  • Started work at 14 in the drapery department of the Co-Operative wholesale society.
  • He worked as an apprentice electrician, but he wasn't very good at it.
  • When National Service time arrived he joined the army to get away from his frustrations in electrics. He became a gunner in the tank regiment.
  • Les was thrown in the guard house for being drunk and disorderly, but got out as there was no one else to play the piano in The Sergeants' Mess.
  • After the war Les went to Paris in an attempt to write essays. He struggles for money and instead ends up getting a job as pianist in a brothel.
  • Started playing piano in pubs professionally - 'for three hours work they paid me the princely sum of ten shillings and I put that wage back over the bar in bills for my drink.'
  • Les had a job as a sales rep for Hoover - but it was just another job he was not very good at.
  • Gets a role as the singer at a nude revue 'The Pauline Penny Peep Show'.
  • Other unsuccessful jobs included sales rep with a plastics manufacturer and with Benjamin Electric lighting manufacturers. His wife Meg encouraged him to apply for the TV talent show Opportunity Knocks. He went on to receive the highest number of votes from the studio audience.
  • His first novel, A card For The Clubs ('a searing indictment of the conditions in working men's clubs) became a best-seller and launched him as an author.
  • Les regularly met royalty and even once had an argument about black puddings with Prince Philip.
  • He wrote the novel An Echo of Shadows under the pseudonym Maria Brett-Cooper.
  • His last television appearance was on Surprise Surprise where he sang 'I got you babe' with a member of the audience who wanted to do a duet with him.
  • In 2013 ITV broadcast Les Dawson: An Audience With That Never Was featuring a projection of Les presenting content for the programme planned in 1993 which had to be cancelled due to his death two weeks before recording.

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