Les Dennis – soon to be Weatherfield burglar, Michael Rodwell – tells TV Times magazine how, at the age of 60, he’s finally achieved a lifelong ambition of starring in Coronation Street…
Have you uttered the immortal line ‘I don’t really knoooow…’ yet?
“I haven’t yet! The funny thing is, my Mavis never met Rita, so I’m looking forward to going into the Kabin and talking to her. Apparently, there’s a clip on YouTube where Thelma Barlow [who played Mavis] actually does say to Rita ‘I don’t really know…’ Thelma used to say to me that she’d get scripts and go ‘I can’t say this, this is Les Dennis!’ So many people on Twitter have asked ‘Are you going to be Mavis’s long-lost cousin?'”
You’ve been cast as Michael Rodwell, a burglar who breaks into the Platts’ house and is disturbed by Gail. How does it feel to be starring in Coronation Street?
“This is a dream come true for me. I was brought up on Coronation Street and have watched it from the beginning. It’s a soap that deals with amazing issues like Hayley’s suicide, but can take you from that to a scene in the pub with Rita and Norris and make you laugh. That’s what I love about it – it juxtaposes the serious and the comedic.”
How have you found it making the transfer to acting?
“It’s a difficult thing when you’ve been on telly as a game show host and in comedy sketch shows to be taken seriously as an actor. To be in – what is, in my opinion – the best soap, in a new role… Well, I’m thrilled.”
We’re meeting you today at ITV’s HQ – how does it feel to be here?
“For me, the biggest achievement I’ve got in my career is still being here. Before you arrived, I looked out and thought ‘I was here in 1982, and 32 years later, I’m back here, promoting an exciting, new and challenging role.’ A lot of people of my era have fallen by the wayside because they didn’t adapt and change.”
You’re currently touring the UK in a theatre adaptation of Peter James’s thriller The Perfect Murder. Your co-stars are Claire Goose and Gray O’Brien, who played Coronation Street villain Tony Gordon!
“Gray was Gail for a week! He ran through the scene with me and he even did Gail’s accent! In fact, he came to the screen test with me. He’d stayed at my house and we had to drive to Norwich, and I did the screen test en-route. He stayed in the car; he was like ‘I’m not coming in.’ I left the window open for him, though!”
Is there anything else you’d still like to achieve?
“My bucket list, career-wise, was always Corrie and Shakespeare. Shakespeare, I still haven’t done. I’d love to play The Fool in King Lear – I think there’s no point in trying to do Hamlet at 60. But I can tick Corrie off now!”