Addams Family fortunes for versatile TV star Les Dennis

Les Dennis as Uncle Fester in THE ADDAMS FAMILY. 'Credit Matt Martin
Les Dennis as Uncle Fester in THE ADDAMS FAMILY. 'Credit Matt Martin
Have your say

You can’t say that actor and comedian Les Dennis isn’t dedicated to his art – he’s shaved his head to play Uncle Fester for this show.

“It was either that or a bald cap to cover my hair,” said Les. “I didn’t feel like sitting in make-up for 90 minutes and getting covered in glue and sweat! It’s easier to do and, now I’ve done it, I’m used to it.”

The Addams Family were created for a US newspaper cartoon drawn by Charles Addams and then starred in a 1960s TV series and two later films.

They are a crazy family who have wandered straight out of a comic horror movie and love all the things we hate, like pain and death, and are constantly baffled by the rest of us.

The musical moves the action a little along in time to when daughter Wednesday is turning 18 and falls in love with Lucas, a boy from a clean-cut, all-American family.

When he brings his parents to meet Wednesday’s family, the comedy comes out of the misunderstandings between the different groups.

Uncle Fester aims to make sure that love will win the day, though.

Les’s version of Fester is a gentler soul than Jackie Coogan in the classic TV series or the even crazier Christopher Lloyd in the 1990s films.

He said: “I wanted to bring my own version of Uncle Fester. I loved Jackie Coogan and Christopher Lloyd but I deliberately didn’t go back and look at what they’d done.

“We had the luxury of it being a new UK performance of the show, so we got to create our own version.

“I wanted him to be called like the narrator of the piece and the champion of the love affair between Wednesday and Lucas. He champions their unconventional love.”

Les added: “There’s not much in the script to be crazy with. He’s got a Puck-like quality in that he is the match-maker and he’s the person that talks to the audience throughout.”

Les is an old hand at musicals, having starred in Me & My Girl, Chicago, Monty Python’s Spamalot and Hairspray.

“Every job that comes up, if it interests me, then it is a yes.” he said. “I don’t ever want it to be the same thing I’ve done previously. ”

Les’s career has changed a lot from his beginnings as a young stand-up club comedian and impressionist.

He got his TV break in 1974 winning the talent show New Faces, before starring alongside Russ Abbott on his comedy shows.

That was where he paired up with comedy partner, the late Dustin Gee, and got their own Laughter Show.

He was also a popular presenter of quiz Family Fortunes and starred in Coronation Street until last year.

Les said: “I like to keep moving. I’ve been in this business 45 years and you have to keep your own interest. If I was still working at the clubs I’d be a bit gutted.”

He admitted he’d never go back into the Celebrity Big Brother house after a traumatic time while his relationship to Amanda Holden was breaking down.

However, “I came second and I came out and Ricky Gervais loved me. I don’t see it as something I regret, it’s something that led to something else. Working on Extras was amazing.”

The Addams Family - Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield, September 12 to 16 Sheffield Theatres