A tribute to Les and alter-ego Ada

Cissie amd Ada
Cissie amd Ada
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Twenty years after the death of Les Dawson, Blackpool’s Grand theatre is gearing up to stage a play about two of the comedian’s most-loved characters.

Cissie and Ada An Hysterical Rectomy comes to the Grand for two nights, on Monday and Tuesday, and features the original scripts by comedy writer Terry Ravenscroft woven around Dawson’s later life story.

For those too young to remember, Cissie and Ada are the comic characters created by Les and his long-suffering sidekick Roy Barraclough in the 1970s - two old women who gossip over the garden wall and lower their voices to a whisper when discussing ailments (an idea based on the earlier comedy of variety star Norman Evans, who is buried at Carleton Crem).

It’s quite fitting that this new play should be staged at the Grand, for Dawson and Barraclough performed as Cissie and Ada in the Laugh with Les Show as part of the theatre’s 1983 summer season. Back then, Les headlined a show that featured the Roly Polys, as well as singer Katie Budd and the Maurice Merry’s Musicmakers (a bonus point if you remember them).

Barraclough (dressed in drag as Cissie) then joined Les (Ada) on stage to perform a range sketches for the twice nightly shows. Dawson’s portrayal of Ada was memorable, not least for the trademark way her (or his) handbag remained tightly clutched to her waist in a manner suggesting infinite disapproval.

Fast forward three decades to this play, which will star two former Coronation Street favourites Eric Potts (Diggory) and Steven Arnold (Ashley), as well as Steve Nallon - famous for his Mrs Thatcher impersonation on Spitting Image.

The Grand is hoping for a bumper turnout for the play, not least because Dawson remains such a hugely popular figure - especially in these parts.

He lived in St Annes for the last years of his life and there is a statue of him by the pier.

He died in 1992 but ITV received huge viewing figures for An Audience That Never Was, an hour-long show screened to coincide with the 20th anniversary of his passing and featuring a hologram of the great man.

Tickets for Cissie and Ada An Hysterical Rectomy are priced £12.50 and available from www.blackpoolgrand.co.uk or by calling the box office on 01253 743339.

And if comedy is your thing, then the Grand Theatre has plenty more on offer this year, including its summer shows Ooh La La and Step Back in Time (hosted by Cannon and Ball from Tuesday 23 July), the Master of Mirth himself Ken Dodd (Sunday 6 October), Milton Jones (Wednesday 30 October) and Bill Bailey (November 1 and 2).