'Liverpool is my heart': Les Dennis shares bucket list wish as he still needs to do one thing in the city

Les Dennis pictured at The Theatre Royal in Nottingham
-Credit: (Image: Nottingham Post)

Les Dennis may now have entered his 70s, but the legendary entertainer has no intentions of slowing down.

The Garston comedian has come a long way from his early days as a stand up performing at working men's clubs across Liverpool. Les became a household name as the presenter of Family Fortunes. He has appeared on TV shows as varied as Coronation Street and Extras - and has headlined theatres all over the country.

However, he has never been someone who rests on his laurels and Les is still keen to venture outside of his comfort zone. It was this determination that inspired him to take on the Strictly Come Dancing challenge last year - and it is exactly why he is now starring in an adaptation of a William Shakespeare play for the first time.

READ MORE: From Canny Farm to Hollywood: The Responder star shares Scouse advice that proved the doubters wrong

READ NEXT: 'Liverpool has taken show to its heart': The Responder's Martin Freeman 'still talking Scouse' as he shares city's impact

Les is playing Malvolio in Twelfth Night, which is being performed at the Shakespeare North Prescot from June 7 to June 29. The comic admitted he was initially surprised when show director, Jimmy Fairhust, approached him with the role but was delighted to accept as it meant he could finally fulfil a long held dream.

He told the ECHO: "I was expecting him to say Feste because that's the clown, but he said Malvolio and I was really thrilled because I saw [Twelfth Night] when I was 17. I went with Quarry Bank school to Stratford and saw the Royal Shakespeare Company's production with Judi Dench and it blew me away.

"I came away and thought I want to do that one day. It's taken me from 17 to 70 to get there but I'm really excited to be doing it."

Performing at the Prescot theatre is a full circle moment for Les as he will be performing just around the corner from where he previously lived in Rainhill. He said: "I keep meaning to go and have a look at the house. A house that in 1974, I paid £6,800 for. Can you believe it? What would that cost now?"

Playing Malvolio is also particularly special for Les as he is set to follow in the footsteps of his hero, Sir Ken Dodd, who took on the role for a production at the Playhouse in 1971. He said: "I feel a real connection to the great man."

The Shakespeare North boasts a garden in Sir Ken's honour and Les heaped praise on the work being done by the theatre to make the theatre accessible to the local community. He said: "Their ethos is to get working class people into the theatre.

"We want to get people into the theatre who don't normally go or think it isn't for them. What we're doing with this production is setting it in the music industry during the festival season so it's really accessible."

Giving back to the community is something important to Les and is one of the reasons he felt compelled to take on the challenge of Shakespeare for the first time. He said: "Working on this play is not earning me a lot of money, but it doesn't matter.

"I'm at home and I'm loving giving back. It's really important giving back and to get something where I could say, I've ticked that off my bucket list."

Les no longer lives in Liverpool but the comedian said he has an unbreakable bond with Merseyside. He added: "Liverpool is my heart. Both my sisters and my brother live in Liverpool so I'm there a hell of a lot and I feel a great connection to the city.

"It's such a unique and wonderful place and it was my start." Les was shaped by Liverpool's vibrant passion for the arts and said going to the Everyman in the 1970s inspired him to pursue a career in showbiz.

The 70-year-old has gone on to become a veteran of Liverpool's entertainment scene who is able to regale incredible stories from his lifetime performing in the city. While it may seem as though Les must have seen it all, there is still one thing he needs to tick off the bucket list as he hasn't yet performed at the place where he fell in love with the stage.

He said: "I've done it all except that one. I've done the Playhouse, I've done the Royal Court, I've done the Empire but I've never worked the Everyman. It's funny when people ask me what I would like to do and then it somehow comes into the universe.

"I was talking on Sunday Brunch last year and said 'I'd love to do some Shakespeare' and it's here so who knows?" Les would relish the opportunity to perform on the famous stage and explained why it's always special to perform in front of a Liverpool crowd.

He said: "A Liverpool audience will always give you a chance. They'd let you know if you're not doing well but they always want you to do well, which is why I always love coming back."

Away from the stage, Les lives in the North West with his wife Claire and their two children. He continues to juggle his career with his family life and said keeping busy is just how he likes it.

He added: "I think if you start to slow down you stop and I don't want to stop. I want to keep going." Les remains as excited as ever about the future and said the ability to stay humble has been key to his long career in the industry.

He said: "I was brought up as a working class kid with parents who worked hard and who always taught me to be down to earth. They didn't see me get the success I have had.

"They passed in 1977 and 1982. When my dad died in 82 I was just starting with Russ Abbot but my mum somehow knew, even though she went in 77, she knew I'd be alright. She was my mentor."

Twelfth Night is being performed at the Shakespeare North Playhouse from June 7 - 29. You can find further information on how to get tickets here.

Receive newsletters with the biggest and breaking TV and showbiz news by signing up here

Enter our £1,000 Aldi voucher giveaway and go wild in the aisles