Following years as a struggling nightclub comic, Les Dawson hit the jackpot in 1968 when he won the I.T.V. talent show 'Opportunity Knocks!'. He became a regular on the B.B.C.'s 'Lulu' series, before landing his own show for Yorkshire Television - 'Sez Les'. After it ended in 1976, Les then returned to the B.B.C., who, somewhat bizarrely, re-teamed him with Lulu for the inaptly-named 'The Les Dawson Show'.
In 1979, he headlined 'The Dawson Watch' which took its title from the B.B.C. sci-fi drama 'Doomwatch' ( starring John Paul, Simon Oates and Robert Powell ) and concerned the misuse of science. Les' version, however, was a spoof investigative show which opened each week with him announcing in mock-serious tones that 'they' were out there, an army of meddling bureaucrats - 'Little Brothers' if you like - out to make life problematic for the common man. "You can't tell the Government to go to hell!", stated Les, "They're making it for us!". The titles showed Les snapping away with a Minox camera whilst in various guises - milkman, sewer maintenance man, even a baby in a pram.
His monologues were delivered from a futuristic control centre similar to S.H.A.D.O. H.Q. from Gerry Anderson's 'U.F.O.'. Beautiful girls and handsome men floated about, programming computers and so on, while glum Les chatted about his awful home life, usually revolving around his wife and her domineering mother. From time to time the camera cut to their laughing faces.
'Watch' owed a debt to 'Scott On...', a sketch show from the early '70's starring Terry Scott and June Whitfield, as well as 'The Frost Report'. Each edition focused on a particular topic, such as 'Crime', 'Education', 'Entertainment', and 'The Media'. The idea was that Les' encounters with awkward shop keepers, over-efficient police men, traffic wardens etc. were supposed to illustrate the decline of Britain. It was hardly satire, of course, some of the sketches would not have looked out of place in 'Sez Les'. Being a Dawson show it would not have been complete without an appearance from 'Ada Shufflebottom' and her best pal 'Cissie', played by Roy Barraclough.
Three seasons were made in all. Les' next show would see him revert to the 'The Les Dawson Show' format - sketches, monologues, guest stars ( who can forget 'The Roly-Polys'! ). But 'The Dawson Watch' made a nice change for him, it was fun seeing Les attempting to scare viewers by warning of terrifying government conspiracies. Was David Cameron a fan by any chance?
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