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When he was 11, he won a music scholarship - he played the trombone - to Kingham Hill School in the Cotswolds.
He left school as soon as possible and had his first showbiz break in 1977 when he won the TV talent show New Faces.
Like his father, who died of cancer in 1985, Lance has achieved celebrity status on a hugely successful BBC show.
But Lance's brand of cool jazz belongs more to the genre of Michael Buble than to the big band sound of his father's generation.
During Ray's nine-year tenure on the show, his catchphrase, 'that's nice', became as familiar to audiences as the voices of the other characters.As his star ascended, he grew to love the finer things in life.'We dined at the Dorchester and Dad drove a Rolls. 'I remember sitting on his lap and singing with him.He said: "One day, son, I hope you'll follow in my footsteps."'But Lance's life was disrupted again when he and his sister were sent to live with his mother in Central London.'I learned that Dad had a reputation as a ladies' man.' Ray then appointed a formidable spinster aunt, Charlotte, to care for the children while he was away. I remember being locked in a bedroom with my sister because we'd got up to mischief.'Mum used to visit, but Charlotte would only allow one of us to go out with her,' he says.
Dancing beauty: Model Lisa Snowdon, who is in Strictly's final tomorrow Indeed Ellington, as the programme's only black member, was often enlisted - in an era that predated political correctness - to play angry tribal chiefs.