Les Dennis 'excited' to star in world premiere of The Perfect Murder in Dartford
PUBLISHED: 11:56 06 January 2014 | UPDATED: 11:56 06 January 2014
Perhaps familiar to many for his time presenting Family Fortunes, or for his impression of Coronation Street's Mavis Riley, the public's image of Les Dennis has changed in recent years.
A familiar face of the 1980s and 1990s, his career has revived in recent years as a star of Ricky Gervais’ Extras and Life’s Too Short.
His latest role is slightly darker, however. Taking centre stage in the world premiere of Peter James’ The Perfect Murder at The Orchard Theatre, Dartford, until Saturday, audiences may see a different side to the scouser who won talent show New Faces in 1974.
“When the project came up and I heard it was Peter James, I thought ‘wow, this will be great’,” he says.
“I get to play Victor, who wants to plan the perfect murder. It’s funny, because I’m now quite often cast as the bad guy because people expect to see the warmth they associate with me. But there’s the twist.”
The play focuses on Victor and his wife, Joan, who have been married for 20 years. But as he forges a drastic plan to escape his marriage, detective Roy Grace intervenes and discovers there are dark forces at hand.
The show also stars Claire Goose (Waking the Dead), Gray O’Brien (Coronation Street) and Steven Miller (Casualty) – a cast that Les, fresh from a turn in Spamalot, says made his decision a “no brainer”.
He likens his character to cult hero Walter White from US hit show Breaking Bad, and says audiences shouldn’t lose sympathy with Victor despite his actions.
“If you look at something like Breaking Bad and Walt, what he does is atrocious, but we can’t help but love him. It’s the same with Victor – he and his wife bicker non-stop and have been married a long time. Maybe he isn’t the only one thinking about murder.”
Les has starred in many productions in recent years, including Chicago, Art and even High School Musical 2 – but his star rose once again in 2005 when he appeared in Extras.
Working with Gervais and his partner Stephen Merchant was “such a great experience” recalls Les, who has in the past claimed the role changed his life.
“I was the only person, alongside Ross Kemp, to star in Extras without being an A-list Hollywood star. After that first series they all came knocking.
“After that they wrote me into Life’s Too Short with Warwick Davies, and even based a Christmas special around me, Keith Chegwin and Shaun Williamson.
“Things are absolutely organised with Ricky, to the point where we finish at 4pm on the dot every day, which is unheard of.”
Having achieved stardom at a young age, Les has never truly left the public eye since his school days and admits that fame has its ups and downs.
He is a victim of online pranks, the latest of which has seen his Wikipedia page claim he was knighted for “services to Family Fortunes”.
“I haven’t seen that one yet,” he laughs. “You find all sorts of things pop up. Apparently I had a number one fishing show on TV a while back. I’ve never been fishing.
“What’s nice is that people are interested in you enough to make up facts. What’s not so nice is when people use your name on Twitter to set up fake accounts – that’s another story.”
The presenter-turned-actor says he is “really excited” about The Perfect Murder in Dartford and is looking forward to “proving again that I have got some acting chops”.
n Tickets are £10 to £25. To book, visit orchardtheatre.co.uk, or call 01322 22 0000.