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Les not miserable at Spar-se Pavilion

PUBLISHED: 18:41 15 May 2003 | UPDATED: 13:52 03 March 2010

THERE were many undoubted highlights to Les Dennis's performance at Felixstowe's Spa Pavilion last night.

No queue at the bar, the toilets were free and, at the interval, the former host of Family Fortunes ordered in a pizza for the 52-strong audience.

THERE were many undoubted highlights to Les Dennis's performance at Felixstowe's Spa Pavilion last night.

No queue at the bar, the toilets were free and, at the interval, the former host of Family Fortunes ordered in a pizza for the 52-strong audience.

Adrian, the bemused pizza deliveryman, arrived on stage shortly before 9pm. He charged Les £11.95 for the pizza before admitting he had no idea what the topping was.

Intimate was the kindest way of describing the empty rows, disappointing was another. While the rest of us twitched embarrassingly, only Les appeared unfazed by the scattering of people in the stalls. One stage hand said: "I can't ever remember when it was this quiet."

Resilient Les joked: "I looked out and thought I was at a furniture warehouse. How come so many of you came dressed as a chair?"

He urged the audience sitting at the back to move forward.

"Come on," he said. "There's a slide show later. I'm passing them round."

Les is also surely the only entertainer in the seaside theatre's history to halt the show because a woman in the fourth row wanted to spend a penny.

"Hurry up, Nelly," urged the celebrity Big Brother runner-up. "Make sure it's not a long one."

It's been a tough year for comeback kid Les. In the last 12 months his career has been vilified and at the same time kick-started by the tabloid press.

The UK tour was billed as the return of the all round entertainer, his chance to show the country he wasn't a total sap. Comedian he may be and his impressions, of which there were disappointingly few, were terrific, but raconteur Les is not. While the audience demanded tales of Anne Diamond, Les's celebrated passing of wind and his penchant for talking to the chickens, he wanted to concentrate on his showbiz past.

"Melinda was quite nice but the guy I am most friendly with is Goldie. He called me the other day but it's like Hannibal Lecter and Mary Poppins going for a pint," he said

Ironically, considering their place in his relaunched career, Les was vitriolic with the tabloid press.

Showing a front-page headline reading Les Miserable under an unflattering picture, he said bitterly: "We all have bad days. What had I done? Committed a murder? Declared war on Iraq? No, I was just indecisive in the Big Brother diary room."

But Les is biting the hand that feeds him. The problem with spending an evening with Les Dennis is that the tabloid savvy audience – albeit 52 of them – demands less Jimmy Tarbuck and more Neil Morrissey.

When asked if he shopped at Homebase, Dennis hinted that everytime he saw his wife's former lover advertising the DIY chain, he kicked the screen. It raised one of the biggest laughs of the night.

At the end of the evening there were seven standing ovations. One of the advantages of a minuscule audience means that more than a sixth of the audience love you. "It was a great show," said one middle-aged woman on her way out.

Asking an audience to pay £14.50 to see Les live has proved one challenge too many, though. Relaunching a real career maybe more difficult than the reality TV man may think.


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