Les Dennis: Wikis


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Les Dennis
Born Leslie Dennis Heseltine
12 October 1953 (1953-10-12) (age 56)
Liverpool, Lancashire, England
Occupation Actor, comedian, presenter and game show host
Years active 1974–present
Spouse(s) Lynne Webster (1974–1990)
Amanda Holden
Claire Nicholson

Les Dennis (born Leslie Dennis Heseltine) on 12 October 1953 is an English comedian, celebrity, television presenter and actor perhaps best known as the host of Family Fortunes for 15 years.


Early life

He was born and brought up in Liverpool where his father, who was at one time on the books of Liverpool F.C. (but didn't play for the first team),[1] worked for a betting shop and his mother worked in a factory. He had a Saturday job in a DIY store whilst still at school and started in entertainment as a stand-up comedian in working men's clubs.


Early work & Family Fortunes

As a comedian in the 1980s Dennis worked with popular television and radio frontman Noel Edmonds for four years, during which time they conceived the idea for Noel's House Party which would not air until 1991, the two parted due to Edmonds's alleged controlling behaviour. He also appeared on numerous light-entertainment shows and worked originally as a stooge to Russ Abbot on Russ Abbot's Madhouse and The Russ Abbot Show before forming a comedy partnership with fellow impressionist Dustin Gee, which in turn led to a series of their own, The Laughter Show. Following Gee's death in 1986, Les carried on The Laughter Show as a solo performer and became the third host of Family Fortunes for a fifteen year run from 1987 to 2002.

Theatre work

His theatre work included Amos Hart in Chicago, Bill Snibson in Me and My Girl in the West End. He had starred in Skylight at the Water Mill Theatre, Newbury; Mr Wonderful at the Chester Gateway Theatre, Misery at Oldham Coliseum Theatre; toured in the play Just Between Ourselves and appeared with Janet Suzman in Cherished Disappointments In Love at London's Soho Theatre. He starred with Christopher Cazenove and John Duttine in a national tour of Art and as Norman Bartholomew in Anthony Shaffer's dark comedy Murderer at London's Menier Chocolate Factory. He also starred in a hit season in Neville's Island at Birmingham Repertory Theatre. He will appear in the role of Mr. Fulton in "High School Musical 2" in a UK tour beginning in late August 2009. He had also made an appearance on two episodes of Bang Bang, It's Reeves and Mortimer in The Club sketch, where he played himself. He also took part in a video-only special of Shooting Stars in 1993, where Vic Reeves introduced him pronouncing his name as if it were French saying "Les Dennis, the French fire engine".

Film work

His big screen debut was in the film Intimate Relations with Julie Walters, Rupert Graves and Laura Sadler and he appeared in the comedy feature film Large and in Wildlife, a short directed by Nick Allsop.

Soap acting

He had also acted in soap operas Brookside, Merseybeat, Casualty and the short-lived revival of Crossroads plus "Hotel Babylon" (for one episode)(bbc1)

Big Brother & beyond

Dennis appeared in the second series of the UK Celebrity Big Brother during the period when his marriage to Amanda Holden was breaking down again - he described his time in the BB House as 'not one of his wisest moves'.

On 11 August 2005 Dennis appeared as a guest star in an episode of the first series BBC-series Extras written by and starring Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant. In this appearance, Dennis played 'himself', or at least a caricature of the public perception of himself, alongside Gerard Kelly as camp theatre director, Bunny.

In September and October 2005 he appeared in Ant & Dec's Gameshow Marathon, in which he appeared at the winners' homes to present the prizes they had won. In early 2006, Dennis presented and performed in BBC One's The Sound of Musicals and guested in New Street Law on BBC One.

In Summer 2006 he played scriptwriter Nick Chase in a new comedy play called Marlon Brando's Corset, which toured the UK from July 2006, including a month-long run at the Edinburgh Fringe.

He appeared as a guest in August 2006 on the ITV drama series, The Bill starring as a man suspected of murdering his father. Dennis appeared alongside fellow former Russ Abbot performer Lisa Maxwell, who plays D.I. Samantha Nixon in the series.

At the 2006 Edinburgh International Television Festival, it was announced Les would make a return to the gameshow genre, presenting a new big-money quiz show titled In the Grid for Five TV. The show debuted on 30 October 2006. From April 2007 he also hosted UKTV Gold's TV Now and Then quiz show. The same month he guested on BBC One's Holby City.

He appeared on The Friday Night Project as a panelist on "Who knows the most about the guest host?" when Rupert Everett guest hosted. In theatre Les guest-starred as narrator in Side by Side by Sondheim at the Venue, London.

As one of the team, he completed running the Safaricom Marathon in Lewa to raise funds for the BBC Wildlife Fund, screened on BBC One's Saving Planet Earth in July.

In August 2007 he starred in the hit play Certified Male- about the highs and lows of modern manhood - at the Edinburgh Festival. He then toured in The Servant of Two Masters, directed by Michael Bogdanov and at Christmas he returned to pantomime after a ten year break, co-starring in Cinderella with Hollywood veteran Mickey Rooney at the Empire Theatre, Sunderland, produced by First Family Entertainment.

Recent work

Les Dennis's autobiography, Must The Show Go On?, was published by Orion in Spring 2008.

As of 2008, Les narrated the new "funny home video" show on Challenge; Les Dennis's Home Video Heroes, and appeared in the ITV documentary Les Dennis' Liverpool, which was, coincidentally, broadcast a week after BBC Two ran Alexei Sayle's Liverpool, a three-part documentary on the city.

During Christmas 2008 panto season, Dennis appeared as Buttons in Cinderella at the Liverpool Empire Theatre. The pantomime also featured Jennifer Ellison as Cinderella, and Cilla Black as the Fairy Godmother.

He is currently back at the Empire, Liverpool starring as the Dame in Peter Pan with Henry Winkler & Natasha Hamilton.

Personal life

Dennis married Lynne Webster, from whom he divorced in 1990. The couple have a son, Phillip, born in 1979.

Dennis then married actress Amanda Holden in 1995, but they divorced eight years later after he discovered Holden was having an affair with Neil Morrissey.

Dennis met Claire Nicholson in 2007. The couple have a daughter, Eleanor Grace, who was born on 24 April, 2008;[2] and married on 23 November, 2009 in Highgate.[3]

Les had his left testicle removed when he was 50 due to swelling, which turned out to be benign. [1]

Dennis is a Liverpool fan,[1] and is also featured on the Wombats' Christmas single Is This Christmas?


  • (2008) Must The Show Go On? (Orion) (ISBN 9780752890968)


External links

Preceded by
Max Bygraves
Host of Family Fortunes
Succeeded by
Andy Collins

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