The daughter of one of Britain’s most popular comedians has vowed to finish an unpublished novel written by her late father.
Charlotte Dawson, 21, whose father Les Dawson died when she was just eight months old, discovered ‘An Echo of Shadows’ when she recently moved from her Lancashire home. The novel is written under the female pseudonym of Maria Brett-Cooper.
Charlotte said: “This is extremely special. This is a novel - a romantic novel - that I found when I was moving from the house that I lived in with my dad in Lytham.
“The novel was never ever published. He was about to publish it before he died. And obviously I’ve read it all and what I’m going to do – because it needs a bit of tweaking and adding bits on – is finish writing it and then hopefully publish it.”
Charlotte told BBC Inside Out (North West) - which can be seen on BBC One in at 7.30pm on Monday, February 10 – she believes it could be her father’s last work before he died, aged 62.
Les Dawson’s widow, Tracy, also tells the programme that the star wanted to be remembered for his writing.
She says: “He always had a notebook in his pocket - always writing, all the time. He used to say ‘if anything happens I want to be remembered for my writing’ because he was so proud of it. He used to go and sit in the library when his books came out – in Lytham St Anne’s Library – and just look at the books, and sit there looking and saying how proud he was that he achieved that. A Collyhurst lad had done well.”
The programme, presented by BBC Radio 6 presenter Chris Hawkins, is a tribute to the genius of Les Dawson seen through the eyes of his daughter - and features archive film plus moving footage of the comedian from a home-video he made for Charlotte when she was born.
The video is one of the 21-year-old’s most prized possessions and shows Les Dawson holding Charlotte as a baby, telling jokes - and showing her into their home – just months before he died.
Charlotte tells Inside Out that she has tried to get to know her father through watching him on the television and Youtube, and reading books. She also often visits his statue on the front at Lytham St Anne’s.
She says: “I know it sounds a bit weird but when I’m upset or angry, I just get in my car, sit there and just try and talk to him and make everything better. Unless it’s a summers day when I’ll just get on my bike and bike down here and just give him a big hug.”
The programme takes Charlotte to meet two of her father’s biggest fans – comedians Les Dennis and Johnny Vegas who played the part of Les Dawson in a Radio 4 play which he also wrote.
Les Dennis says: “For me, Les was somebody who’d cut through from the working men’s clubs and moved on. Somebody like Les made you think – it’s possible, it’s absolutely possible.”
When shown Les Dawson’s recently discovered unpublished novel by Charlotte, Vegas tells Inside Out: “This is the saddest thing, it’s always the stuff you never know. We have got what he did – and that’s there to treasure – but, without being morbid, what’s really sad is… there was so much more beneath the surface with Les.”