Jon Culshaw delighted to be playing comedy hero Les Dawson on stage - including two nights at Lytham's Lowther Pavilion

Comedy legend Les Dawson is to be celebrated at this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe with the premiere of a new play looking back at his life and career.

By Tony Durkin
Friday, 29th July 2022, 6:14 pm
Updated Friday, 29th July 2022, 6:15 pm

Jon Culshaw, a familiar voice to Blackpool listeners to Radio Wave before becoming a top TV impressionist, will be portraying Les, one of his lifelong comedy heroes, in an Edinburgh show starting on Tuesday, August 3.

The show, entitled Les Dawson: Flying High, then goes on tour from three months from September, culminating with two shows in December at Lytham’s Lowther Pavilion, close to the home Les shared with wife Tracy and daughter Charlotte up his death in June 1993, and just along the road from the statue which commemorates Les in the St Annes Peace and Happiness Garden next to the pier.

Jon has joined forces with writer Tim Whitnall and director Bob Golding to create the new show, which is billed as “hilarious yet humbling, heightened yet grounded and poignant yet ultimately uplifting” – and it was at Les’ statue that he chose to launch it alongside Charlotte and Tracy.

Jon Culshaw at Les' statue in St Annes with Tracy Dawson and Charlotte Dawson.

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Les’ legend will live on forever

Jon described Les as “a real comedy hero of mine” and added as he prepared for the show in Edinburgh:

“I’ve been a fan of for as long as I can remember. I’ve got great memories of watching him with my mum, dad, brother and sister, and the laughter just filling the room.

“He is someone who has just always been with me in my heart and mind.

Jon Culshaw will portray Les at the Edinburgh Festival from August 3 and then on a national tour.

“Les said himself that good comedy came from within and that if it came from the heart it really meant something and people could relate to it.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been more comfortable in the guise of somebody else.

“The show will be a real celebration of Les’s comedy, but also his skill, flair and talent as a writer, and how those two worlds came together.

“It’s about following your dreams and your aspirations, but we also want it to reflect how much Les was loved as an entertainer, as well as his dedication.

Jon Culshaw as Les Dawson

“We want it to have meaning, as well as the big laughs. It will be lovely to dig a bit deeper and let people see the beauty of his writing and what a wordsmith he was.”

The national tour of the show begins at Lancaster Grand Theatre on Thursday, September 22 and takes in 18 venues all over the country before concluding with shows on Saturday, December 10 and Sunday, December 11 at Lytham’s Lowther Pavlion. Ticket details of those performances at www.lowtherpavilion.co.uk

Charlotte and her mum joined Jon for a photo call at the statue of her dad and said: ”I’m really looking forward to the show. It will be a great tribute – Jon has my dad off to a tee – and we’re especially looking forward to it coming to Lytham.”

Tracy added: “I’ve seen a preview of the show and Jon really is great. It’s lovely to see Les remembered in this way and I’m especially pleased Jon is from the north. The Lowther show on the tour will be really special. This area meant so much to Les and it will be like coming home.”