Les joins Corrie as Dennis the Menace

FROM ITV''STRICT EMBARGO -TV Listings Magazines Tuesday 18 March 2014, Newspapers and other media including ANY websites Saturday 22 March 2014''Coronation Street - Ep 8350''Monday 24 March 2014 - 2nd Ep''When Gail McIntyre [HELEN WORTH] arrives home, she finds a man [LES DENNIS] in the living room claiming to be inspecting a gas leak, but is he all he says he is? The man pushes Gail hard. Realising he is an intruder, Kylie Platt [PAULA LANE] runs after him but she's left fuming when he jumps in a van and drives off. Realising her favourite necklace has been stolen, will Gail feel more alone than ever?''Photographer - Joseph Scanlon''Picture contact: david.crook@itv.com on 0161 952 6214''This photograph is (C) ITV Plc and can only be reproduced for editorial purposes directly in connection with the programme or event mentioned above, or ITV plc. Once made available by ITV plc Picture Desk, this photograph can be reproduced once only up until the transmission [TX] date and no reproduction fee will be charged.
FROM ITV''STRICT EMBARGO -TV Listings Magazines Tuesday 18 March 2014, Newspapers and other media including ANY websites Saturday 22 March 2014''Coronation Street - Ep 8350''Monday 24 March 2014 - 2nd Ep''When Gail McIntyre [HELEN WORTH] arrives home, she finds a man [LES DENNIS] in the living room claiming to be inspecting a gas leak, but is he all he says he is? The man pushes Gail hard. Realising he is an intruder, Kylie Platt [PAULA LANE] runs after him but she's left fuming when he jumps in a van and drives off. Realising her favourite necklace has been stolen, will Gail feel more alone than ever?''Photographer - Joseph Scanlon''Picture contact: david.crook@itv.com on 0161 952 6214''This photograph is (C) ITV Plc and can only be reproduced for editorial purposes directly in connection with the programme or event mentioned above, or ITV plc. Once made available by ITV plc Picture Desk, this photograph can be reproduced once only up until the transmission [TX] date and no reproduction fee will be charged.
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A new but recognisable face will soon be popping up on the famous Coronation Street cobbles, as Les Dennis joins the cast as burglar, Michael.

“He’s an opportunist, rather than a career burglar, so he doesn’t intend to scare anybody,” says Dennis, 60, explaining his character’s actions.

“He hopes to be burgling an empty house and worries about people being insured. He’s a burglar with a conscience!”

Due to prior commitments (he’s currently on a nationwide theatre tour of The Perfect Murder), Dennis only appears in two episodes initially, although he’s set to return to screens in June. As brief as his introduction is, the scenes set a strong foundation for the character.

“He’s disturbed burgling Gail’s house and tries to make out he’s fixing the gas meter,” Dennis reveals. “He gets chased by Kylie and you later find he’s been caught.”

As a victim of crime, Gail winds up visiting him in prison. “She’s thankful for his apology,” says Dennis, referring to the ‘restorative justice’ storyline that will play out over the summer months - and lead to an unexpected understanding between the pair.

Dennis is “absolutely thrilled” to be working with Helen Worth, who’s played Gail since 1974.

“While Michael might not mean any physical harm to his victims, he doesn’t understand the effect his actions have. “And the violation you feel,” says Dennis, whose home in London was burgled three years ago.

His wife, Claire, was about to give birth to their son, Tom, and the car, which was also stolen, had been packed with baby clothes and a camera.

“That was the least of our troubles. It was the idea of them being in the house,” says Dennis, whose daughter Eleanor, then two (he also has a grown-up son, Philip, from his first marriage to Lynne Webster) had been asleep at the time.

The police found the perpetrators but they weren’t prosecuted.

“It was one of those things where it became so frustrating,” he recalls. “We lived right on parkland and it meant that people could get over the fence quite easily. I said I was going to put barbed wire up and they [the police] said that’s an offence, against their [burglars’] human rights. You know, it might hurt their hands when they’re burgling you. I just wanted to draw a line under it.”

He says he would have liked to have met the burglars face to face, but, unlike Gail, doesn’t know “how sympathetic I would’ve been”.

He’d called London home since 1987 but, last year, Dennis and his wife decided to move their family to Cheshire, a decision he acknowledges might “subconsciously” have had something to do with the burglary.

A lifelong fan of the show, he became associated with the soap back in the Eighties, after doing a Mavis impersonation to fellow impressionist Dustin Gee’s Vera. He and Gee had a comedy double-act and their own show, The Laughter Show, from 1984 until 1986, the year Gee died following a heart attack.

Although known for his skits, Dennis actually started out as an actor, landing theatre jobs in Liverpool. “But then I went down the working men’s club route and made a career out of comedy,” he notes.

He won the TV talent show New Faces in 1974 and later teamed up with Russ Abbot for Russ Abbot’s Saturday Madhouse and The Russ Abott Show.

“Comedy’s the hardest thing to do and I think it’s a young man’s game, really,” says Dennis, who began hosting the game show Family Fortunes in 1987, a role he continued until 2002.”

Life hasn’t all been highs. There was the tabloid frenzy in 2000 surrounding his second wife Amanda Holden’s affair with Neil Morrissey. The pair reunited briefly before separating in 2002.

The same year, Dennis appeared in the Celebrity Big Brother house and suffered something of a meltdown but on the back of that Ricky Gervais called and offered him a cameo in his TV series, Extras. “So every cloud... You’ve got to think of it that way,” adds Dennis, who attributes his career reinvention to the Office star.