LES Dennis has spoken about his experience on Strictly, working with Ricky Gervais and his connection with Northwich.

It comes as the ex-Family Fortunes host joins the cast of this year’s Memorial Court pantomime, Beauty and the Beast.

It marks a return to the town for Dennis, who first appeared here half a century ago.

He said: “There aren’t many around now but I used to perform in the working men’s clubs and legions in my early days on the stand up circuit.

“That was back in the 70s so it has been quite a long time since I last performed in Northwich but I always enjoyed it.”

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Dennis, who lives in Cheshire himself, is no stranger to the town and worked here during his stint as Michael Rodwell in Corrie.

He said: “I think we filmed some of Coronation Street here. We came out on location I remember. There’s a church they used quite near, it might have been for Deidre’s funeral.”

Most recently, Dennis appeared on Strictly Come Dancing but was the first to be voted out, along with his partner Nancy Xu.

Asked if panto audiences can expect to see any of his newly-acquired dance moves, Dennis said: “I haven’t seen the script yet but I should imagine so, I was only there a few weeks.

“I go back for the last week so I will be missing a couple of shows here.

“It was a great experience, I loved it, and the standard of dancing this season is phenomenal.”

He admitted Strictly wasn’t something he had thought about doing before and revealed who he is backing.

“They just asked me if I would do it and I said yes,” said Dennis.

“It’s not something I campaigned for.

“I was asked once before but I was doing Coronation Street at the time and you can’t do it if you’re in Corrie.

“Ellie Leach is doing brilliantly.”

READ MORE: Les Dennis knocked out of Strictly ahead of Northwich Panto stint

Dennis will soon be turning his attention to playing the role of an evil king in Beauty and the Beast, produced by Anton Benson.

“My agent was called by Anton and I liked the sound of the subject and it’s near home,” he said.

“I have never done Beauty and the Beast before, and I’ve never played a king. It will be nice to get the boos for a change!

“The thing about the panto is there is such responsibility to get it right because it’s the first time lots of kids are coming to see a show and if they love it they will carry on going to see theatre all their lives.

“Someone posted the other day saying the first time they went to the theatre was to see me and Christopher Biggins at the Swansea Grand which was 25 years ago. She said she has been a fan ever since and I love that!”

Dennis has starred in pantos all over the country, as well as taking on roles in Westend productions such as Only Fools and Horses, Hairspray and Chicago.

His most infamous performance came as a fictionalised version of himself in Ricky Gervais’ Extras, in which he and Gervais took to the stage as Alladin and the Genie.

“That was a panto experience in typical Ricky Gervais style,” Dennis said.

“Ricky and Stephan (Merchant) wrote that show and I was thrilled to do it.”

Northwich Guardian: The cast of Beauty and the Beast at Memorial CourtThe cast of Beauty and the Beast at Memorial Court (Image: Supplied)

Ryan Greaves, who co-wrote this year’s panto and will star in it, is excited to see what Dennis will bring to the show.

“There is only one cast member this year who we have never worked with before, and that’s Les,” he said.

“I watched Les as a kid and he has got great cross-generational appeal, he’s a real household name with so much showbiz experience.

“We only met him a few minutes ago and he’s already coming up with ideas.”

Dennis added: “We’ve got a stellar cast who are regulars here, so I don’t want to make this the Les Dennis show.

“At this time of the year and the way the world is right now, we all need a laugh.”

On what he is getting up to in 2024, Dennis added: “There’s something I can’t talk about right now which will be announced later this month.”

Beauty and the Beast runs from December 7 to 31 and tickets are on sale now via the Brio Entertainment website.