Les Dawson would have been 80 this coming Wednesday. As my biography of him is nearing completion, I am more aware of this than most. I've spoken to many of the people who worked with him, and all loved him. His spirit has been a benign presence in my house for the two and a half years since the book was commissioned, and while many biographers end each book with diminished respect for their subject, mine for Dawson, already high when I set out, has grown. I shall mark the occasion with fine Scotch whisky and a black pudding taste test. Dawson once got into a heated debate about the way this fine delicacy should be cooked. Dawson maintained that they should be boiled, but the other participant held that they should be fried. That the other participant was the Duke of Edinburgh and that Dawson was able to disagree with him good-naturedly but forcefully in the face of protocol and etiquette says much about both men and the respect they had for each other.
Meanwhile, how is this occasion being marked by broadcasters? ITV is showing a 10-year-old half-hour documentary about the great man. I'm not complaining, because my VHS recording of the original transmission is missing the first five minutes, but is that really it? The BBC, which employed him for the last 15 years of his life, and which could repeat his excellent and charming Comic Roots documentary from 1982, where he visits the Mancunian streets of his youth and the cotton mills where the prototypes for Cissie and Ada worked, isn't bothering at all. Sadly, I can't share that one, but expect some good clips to appear here on Wednesday.
In the mean time, enjoy my good friend Walty Dunlop's review of the new Jokers Wild series 1 DVD set.