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Blair, Lionel (1931-)

Dancer, Actor, Choreographer, Presenter

Main image of Blair, Lionel (1931-)

Dancer, choreographer, actor and all-round cheerful TV personality, Lionel Blair is associated as much with the popular celebrity charades game Give Us a Clue (ITV, 1979-1992) as he is with his dance routines. He was very much a product of early TV variety shows, demonstrating an ebullient verve and showbiz smile that suited the period.

He was born in Montreal, Quebec on 12 December 1931, but came to Britain a year later. At first he joined the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford to take up acting but, inspired by the films of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, he decided to become a dancer.

His distinguished career included a dance-off against Sammy Davis Junior at the Royal Variety Command Performance in 1961. An appearance in the Beatles film A Hard Day's Night (d. Richard Lester, 1964) enhanced his reputation, and he also choreographed other films such as The Magic Christian (d. Joe McGrath, 1969). On TV he choreographed, and often appeared in popular shows, such as The Mike and Bernie Show (ITV, 1973), The Tommy Cooper Hour (ITV, 1973-5) and the Jimmy Tarbuck Show (ITV, 1974-5). He moved away from dancing when he became a judge on ITV's X-Factor forerunner New Faces (1976) and then really earned popular affection opposite Una Stubbs in the long running Give Us a Clue.

More recently, Blair has appeared in Channel Five's reality programme The Farm (2005) before agreeing to send himself up in the final episode of the sitcom Extras (BBC, tx. 27/12/2007).

Eddie Dyja

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