17:38 Thursday 20 February 2014

Coronation Street-bound Les slips in a little murder

Written byNIGEL POWLSON

WHEN Les Dennis first walked down the cobbles of Coronation Street it was a “dream come true’ for the popular entertainer.

Les, who hosted Family Fortunes for 15 years can be seen at Derby Theatre in The Perfect Murder and is having to dovetail that with filming for Britain’s top soap.

He says: “My head’s reeling as I didn’t get the call about Corry until we were on tour with this. I was driving in Bath and my agent called and said ‘how would you feel about Corry?’ I pulled the car over immediately and said ‘yes please’.

“As a family we moved up to Cheshire last August to get out of London and then I got the West End Spamalot and I thought ‘have I made the biggest mistake of my life?’ and then Corry came along. Not only am I 20 minutes from work but in a dream job.

“I walked along looking at the names on the dressing room doors and it was amazing. Dustin Gee and I always used to do Vera and Mavis from the show and did a summer season in Blackpool where we did all the characters in a 20-minute sketch. I have been fan from the beginning, watching it as a child.”

Les’s diverse career has seen him successfully mix stage and screen work.

“If you don’t keep doing something new you become a dinosaur,” he says. “I was at the tail end of cabaret working with the likes of Jimmy Tarbuck and Les Dawson. Stand up is also a young man’s game and acting was always something I wanted to get into.”

Currently Les is starring with Claire Goose in The Perfect Murder, the first adaptation of popular thriller writer Peter James’ work. Les plays Victor Smiley, whose marriage has reached crisis point leaving him to believe there is only one way to get his wife out of his life forever. Young detective Roy Grace investigates.

Les says: “For anybody ho has read the book there will be a couple of surprises although it is faithful to the characters.

“It’s funny but the comedy comes from being real. Victor and Joan could have come out of an Alan Ayckbourn play.

“We didn’t know what we had as it’s the first stage adaptation of Peter’s work. The character of Roy Grace, who is in Peter’s other novels isn’t in The Perect Murder but they wanted him on stage so they have played around in time and it’s a young Roy on his first case.

“They have struck gold with it.

“There’s no restlessness in the theatres. You know when you have got an audience and the reaction afterwards is fantastic.

“When were were in Brighton we had a 92 per cent attendance. Everywhere we have gone they say ‘this is the best we have done with a play for a long time’. It’s normally musicals that do this well.

“I have made sure I have done a play every year and when it goes this well there’s nothing like it.”

The Perfect Murder, Derby Theatre, March 3-7. Go to www.derbytheatre.co.uk or call 01332 593939.

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