Les Dawson – An Audience with That Never Was

Rob Witcomb as Les Dawson for ITV

To mark the twentieth anniversary of the death of comedian Les Dawson, new multimedia holographic technology was used to bring him back on stage in front of a celebrity audience.

The technology used to create the Les Dawson hologram was a first anywhere in the world, fusing the work of a prosthetics and CGI team with that of an actor. Rob underwent an intensive week’s training learning Les’ original material, his mannerisms and his voice¬†whilst being fitted out with full facial and hand prosthetics, a fat suit and Les’ actual clothes and jewellery.

After 3 hours in make up each day, the 12 hour shoot days involved painstakingly copying Les’ original movements. With no room for cut ins, the 5 different clips were shot in single takes and then, after 25,000 frames had been captured, the team put together a fully 3 dimensional Les to perform in front of a celebrity audience to perform the ‘audience with’ that Les had signed to do 2 weeks before his death.

Rob met with Les’ widdow and daughter who were visibly moved by the whole experience and it had a certain romantic conclusion given that Rob’s father & grandfather had spent the 70s & 80s boozing at the same pub and living on the same street as Les in Lytham at Anne’s.
Though Rob says the process is easily ‘the hardest thing I’ve ever done’ ¬†the film company and itv praised his ‘outstanding work’ and ‘endless patience’ with the show’s director commenting he had ‘gone further and done more than anyone could have expected’.