Scouse entertainer Les Dennis has had a versatile career as an actor, comedian and impressionist, and

the veteran performer could not be happier with his current role, starring in panto at the Liverpool Empire.

 

Les, who plays Wishee Washee in Aladdin opposite the impossibly glamorous Pamela Anderson, returned to his home city to complete a hat-trick of pantos, and says he finds the experience so rewarding. Last year he performed with Henry Winkler and Natasha Hamilton in Peter Pan, and he has now become a focal part of Liverpool's great festive panto tradition.

 

In an exclusive interview with JMU Journalism, he said: "I love working in front of a Liverpool audience and the Empire is a brilliant theatre. This is third time in a row I've performed in pantomine here, but I have never done it before that. If they will have me next year I will do it again. There is always a certain amount of intrigue with these pantomines."

 

He says out of everything he has done in his career, panto has become a favourite job, but he still harbours grander performance ambitions: "I love pantomine. I haven't done any Shakespeare plays yet but I would love to do something like that. It would be a challenge."

 

Les, 57, who was born in Garston, says his favourite

Scouser ever is Aladdin co-star Pete Price, who he

describes as "a mate and institution", and he is still

hoping to star opposite more famous Liverpudlians.

 

He said: "It's been a great thrill to have worked with

some of the people I have over the years, but I would

love to work with Ricky Tomlinson or Ken Dodd."

 

Les, 57, and his wife Claire are currently expecting their

second child, and after his very public split from ex-wife

Amanda Holden, he is clear about the importance of

keeping away from a contrived life in the spotlight.

He said: " When I get home I am just a husband and a

dad, I can leave my job at the door."

 

The former host of hit TV show Family Fortunes thinks that current host Vernon Kay is doing a good job but jokes that seeing it is like "watching you own house being burgled".

 

Les has had a sustained career in show-business, but his fondest memories are those of when he was a double act with Dustin Gee in his early years. He says that he has missed the late star every day since his death in 1986.

 

His career was done no favours by his much-mocked appearance on Celebrity Big Brother, but he turned this to his advantage with a memorable and acclaimed parody performance in Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant’s Extras. Les is justly proud of his involvement and said: " Extras will be a classic show over the years."

 

Despite hitting the headlines for all the wrong reasons in Big Brother, Les hasn't ruled out appearing on another TV reality show. He revealed: "I have turned down Dancing on Ice, but I would like to appear on something on which I can learn, like Hell's Kitchen."

 

Les, who is a big fan of Strictly Come Dancing was also transfixed by this year's X Factor, where our very own Rebbecca Ferguson finished second. He said: "I am a fan of her, not because she a Scouser but because she is original and very talented."

 

When asked what he thinks of shows such as Britain's Got Talent, he said: "I have nothing against them, I used to go on them but I think people need to know their trade. I don't think gimmicks last."

 

Les says he visits Liverpool "an awful lot" and presented a show on BBC Radio Merseyside on Christmas Day.

 

It's clear that his love and respect for the city is mutual, as many panto-watchers can be overheard in the foyer of the Empire saying that laughing along with Les Dennis was their favourite part of the show.

Les Dennis talks to JMU Journalism

EXCLUSIVE by Helen Dodd, Entertainment Editor

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