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Hologram Les fails to connect

It's unbelievable!" mouthed veteran hoofer Lionel Blair in the cumbersomely-titled Les Dawson: An Audience with That Never Was. It certainly was unbelievable, as well as more than a little ghoulish and tasteless.

Dawson, the beloved master of the deadpan mother-in-law joke, rambling, florid anecdote and out-of-tune piano-playing, died 20 years ago, just a fortnight before he was due to record an edition of An Audience with.

With the cooperation of his widow Tracy, who was Dawson's second wife, and their daughter Charlotte, who was just 18 months old when her father died, An Audience with That Never Was tried to give a flavour of what the show might have been like.


Dawson magically materialised as a hologram in front of a gasping audience of old friends and fellow celebrity admirers, to deliver some of the material that had been written for the original show.

In the run-up to the programme, we'd been promised that the holographic Les would be "staggeringly realistic"; maybe it was if you were stuck in the cheap seats at the back of the theatre.

When the camera stayed a medium distance from the stage, as it did for most of this weird spectacle, it was just about possible to convince yourself that you were looking at a flesh-and-blood Dawson.

Close-up shots, however, ruthlessly revealed an eerily flat and lifeless projection that moved jerkily. It was all rather creepy, to be honest, and the decision to litter the hour with clips of Dawson at his vibrant best only succeeded in showing this up for what it was: a shoddy parlour trick.

Contemporaries of Dawson's, including Ken Dodd, Cilla Black, Bruce Forsyth and Roy Barraclough (who played Ada to Dawson's Cissie), as well as younger admirers such as stand-up Russell Kane, lined up in pre-recorded insets to testify to his warmth, generosity and talent. But they were notable by their absence from the audience.

"Les would have adored this," gushed an emotional Tracy.

Here's one Les Dawson fan that didn't.

It's no wonder The Voice is choking; it's terrible. Not that The X Factor or the wretched Britain's Got Talent are any better, but at least they know how to keep the format simple.

The Voice, on the other hand, just gets more clumsy and convoluted. The number of live knockout shows has been slashed for this second series.

This attempt to streamline the show has been derailed, though, by introducing the "Fast Pass", which allows each mentor to push one of their team through to the next round without them having to sing a note.

There's also a bizarre new twist whereby the remaining contestants on the same team are split into mini-teams and have to compete in a sing-off. Viewers' heads will be spinning faster than the panel's chairs.

As well as being a mentor on The Voice, Tom Jones was a contemporary of Otis Redding. Jones turned up, along with Rod Stewart and Bryan Ferry, as talking heads on the splendid documentary Otis Redding: Soul Ambassador.

Redding had it all: charm, charisma, ferocious good looks and talent to burn. He was just 26 when he died in a plane crash in 1967, mere days after recording what would become his biggest hit, (Sitting On) The Dock of the Bay, which signalled an exciting new change in direction.

Thrilling performance clips showed just what the world lost. I doubt anyone will be making a documentary like this about Tom Jones 46 years after he's shuffled off his mortal microphone cord.

Les Dawson: An Audience with That Never Was HHIII

The Voice UK HIIII

Otis Redding: Soul Ambassador HHHHI