Desğerate Attempt to Keep the Great Comedian's Memory Alive
Sometimes one wonders just what goes through a program-maker's or commissioning editor's mind when they choose to make something.
One of the pillars of ITVs comedy output over the years has been AN AUDIENCE WITH ... where an individual performer has a one-hour slot in front of a celebrity audience. Victoria Wood, Billy Connolly, Ken Dodd, Kenneth Williams; all managed to accomplish the feat successfully. In 1993 Les Dawson was invited to participate in the program, but he died of a heart attack at the age of only fifty- nine, two weeks before it was due to be recorded.
Undaunted, some bright spark within the ITV hierarchy made the decision to "celebrate" the twentieth anniversary of this non-event by inviting a celebrity audience to witness a hologram of Dawson telling jokes and playing the piano in his inimitable way. Quite literally he has been brought back from the dead to entertain. The program showed his widow Tracey and his grown-up daughter greeting the prospect with relish, interspersed with reaction-shots from the celebs laughing and mouthing the word "unbelievable" on more than one occasion.
Given that Dawson left a substantial archive of material on both ITV and BBC, we wondered precisely what the point of creating the hologram was. Was it designed to prove the miracles of modern technology? Why didn't the program-makers create a more nuanced tribute-program, in which the celebs could contribute their reminiscences?
The whole enterprise was nothing more than a macabre exercise in pointlessness. Perhaps its only redeeming quality was to remind us of just what a great comedian Dawson was, both in terms of his timing and range of facial expressions.
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