Dawson's peek

Les's secret diaries revealed

Les Dawson's previously unseen diaries are to be revealed in a TV show this spring.

His widow Tracy has decided to make the documents public for the first time in one of a number of Channel 4 documentaries about comic heroes.

Another will tell of Frankie Howerd's predatory homosexual secrets, while a third examines the mysterious theft of Bob Monkhouse's diaries.

A Channel 4 spokesman said: "The diaries show how Les battled with failure and disappointment

"His 20-year struggle to the top became the reason for his success - as he incorporated his 'excellence at failure' into a unique comic style. But success did not bring him the happiness he sought and he suffered crippling insecurities and a constant fear of failure that eventually led to his premature death."

The show also includes interviews with those who knew him, from his days of selling vacuum cleaners, his army life and his early performances in the Northern clubs to the height of his nationwide success.

Les Dawson's Lost Diaries will be broadcast in April, as will Who Stole Bob Monkhouse's Jokes.

This documentary interviews fellow comedians and presents dramatic reconstructions to help piece together the mystery of two books of jokes, collated over 25 years, were stolen from an office at the BBC.

Channel 4 has persuaded the man accused of the theft to reveal the truth behind one of Britain's most bizarre showbiz crimes.

A spokesman said: "After the theft of the books, Bob Monkhouse and his agent Peter Pritchard garnered press sympathy to try to recover the books, which were considered to be the comic's life's work.

"After suspicion spread from BBC employees, to stand-up comedian Adrian Walsh, the documentary shows how the blame eventually settled on a South African businessman, Allen Swaine, after he contacted Pritchard claiming he knew the whereabouts of the books.

" A year later, after a complex police sting, more commonly employed in million-pound fraud cases, the books were recovered in Pritchard's office."

Channel 4's comic trilogy is completed with The Secret Sex Life of Frankie Howerd, to be aired in May. It will contrast his lecherous heterosexual on-screen image with the aggressive, and possibly self-destructive, homosexual advances he made to almost every young man he encountered.

Published: 25 Feb 2004

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