Les Dennis’s career takes ‘another left turn’ as he lands role in film and set to appear in an opera


Les Dennis revealed his career is taking ‘another left turn’ as he is set to take on his first lead role in a new film. 

The former Family Fortunes presenter, 67, also announced that he will appear in the English National Opera show HMS Pinafore in October. 

His new film, Sideshow, sees him take on the main role of washed-up psychic Pendrick, acting alongside Buffy The Vampire Slayer’s Anthony Head and Skins actress April Pearson. 

‘Another left turn’: Comic Les Dennis, 67, revealed he is set to feature in a lead role in a new film, Sideshow, (pictured) which airs later this year as he takes his career in another direction

Speaking with The Guardian about ‘another left turn’ in his career, Les admitted he often feels nervous and gets imposter syndrome. 

The comic said he is more surprised than anyone else that he managed to land the baritone role of Sir Joseph Porter in the opera, which he is due to begin rehearsals for in September.

‘Yes, it’s good to take people by surprise, and take myself equally by surprise,’ he said. ‘So on that opening night I will be excited, nervous, and know that people will be going ‘ah, let’s see’.’

Les, who will also appear in Hairspray in June, never intended to get into opera but was encouraged to audition by the director Cal McCrystal – where he was hired straight away.  

Imposter syndrome: The former Family Fortunes presented admitted he often feels nervous and gets imposter syndrome

Imposter syndrome: The former Family Fortunes presented admitted he often feels nervous and gets imposter syndrome

He is currently having singing lessons for his opera appearance at the London Coliseum – with his teacher sending him at-home exercises to complete.

But Les, who used to be married to Amanda Holden, admits he fears his voice may be rusty after months off due to the pandemic, except for his appearance in a Christmas pantomime. 

Looking back on his career and his various accomplishments, he said his best achievement was managing to still be working. 

‘If I’d been doing the cabaret circuit or the club circuit or the Saturday night telly that was around in the 80s, I wouldn’t be around any more, because those shows have fallen by the wayside. So I have had to keep changing.’

New roles: The comic said he is more surprised than anyone else that he managed to land the baritone role of Sir Joseph Porter in the opera (pictured with Anthony Head in Sideshow)

New roles: The comic said he is more surprised than anyone else that he managed to land the baritone role of Sir Joseph Porter in the opera (pictured with Anthony Head in Sideshow)

It comes after earlier this month Les spoke of his devastation after being accused of ‘racism’ during his time as the host of Family Fortunes.

He claimed that the game show – which he hosted between 1987 and 2002 – was the ‘most diverse’ on television at the time.

A video has recently appeared online called ‘Racist Family Fortunes’, which claims Les mocked contestants with ‘racist jokes’.

Opinion: Les has spoke of his devastation after being accused of 'racism' during his time as the host of Family Fortunes (pictured in 2000)

Opinion: Les has spoke of his devastation after being accused of ‘racism’ during his time as the host of Family Fortunes (pictured in 2000)

The clip which was first posted on YouTube in 2015 features The Brown family – who are all black – and the creator claims that Les ridiculed the contestants.

Les has now spoken of his horror at the accusations and said he was always very proud that his show featured ‘mixture of families from the fantastic multicultural UK’.

Speaking about the video – which has now received more than 50,000 views, on the Behind the Scenes with Colin Edmonds podcast, Les said: ‘I was very proud that at that time…

Claims: The TV star  claimed that the game show - which he hosted between 1987 and 2002 - was the 'most diverse' on television at the time

Claims: The TV star  claimed that the game show – which he hosted between 1987 and 2002 – was the ‘most diverse’ on television at the time

‘I think it was (race equality expert) Trevor Phillips that said it – we were the most diverse game show on television and we really had that mixture of families from the fantastic multicultural UK that we have.’

He added: ‘Something that has made me very upset, on YouTube there’s an episode that says ‘Racist Family Fortunes’, somebody has posted it and people are looking at it.

‘When you look at it, it’s because the family were called the Brown Family and it is suggested that we were being racist and we picked that family to have a joke and of course it wasn’t that and I think whoever posted that I hope he can sleep at night.’ 

Family Fortunes sees two families compete against each other as they answered questions posed to the British public.

It was almost two decades since the show, featuring the general public, was last seen on air – being Gino D’Campo took the reins last year.

Horrified: Les has now spoken of his horror of the accusations and said he was always very proud that his show featured 'mixture of families from the fantastic multicultural UK'

 Horrified: Les has now spoken of his horror of the accusations and said he was always very proud that his show featured ‘mixture of families from the fantastic multicultural UK’

Les previously told the Sun: ‘It’s a different show now, it runs an hour, we were only half an hour. I think that it’s quite long at an hour. I think to keep on it needs to be tighter. ITV haven’t served Gino well there.’ 

After Les’ series was axed, Vernon Kay, 47, hosted an All Star version, featuring celebrities and their families.

The show ran for 11 series, before eventually being dropped in 2015.

Bob Monkhouse was the first ever host of Family Fortunes, fronting the show between 1980-1983, before Max Bygraves took over for two years between 1983-1985.

After a year off air, Les took the helm. He was succeeded by Andy Collins, who hosted for a short period when the show moved to a daytime slot in 2002, before eventually being axed.

The US version of the show is called Family Feud, with comedian Steve Harvey as presenter. The Kardashian/West family are fans of the show and appeared on the show in 2018. 

Celebrity version: After Les' series was axed, Vernon Kay, 47, hosted an All Star version, featuring celebrities and their families (pictured 2015)

Celebrity version: After Les’ series was axed, Vernon Kay, 47, hosted an All Star version, featuring celebrities and their families (pictured 2015) 



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