“Butlins was at its peak it was a magical place.”
Once best known for saying “Oooh, I don’t really know”, Les Dennis has certainly increased his repertoire since then. The 59-year-old was host of the hugely popular Family Fortunes game show when it had audiences of more than 14 million.
And, an Edinburgh Festival regular, Les has an impressive acting CV, too, with a string of acclaimed dramatic roles. He was also one of the stand-outs of the recent Celebrity MasterChef series and is currently starring as King Arthur in the London West End smash Spamalot. Les and wife Claire have two young children, Eleanor and Thomas.
“I love France, and the Dordogne area in particular.
“In fact, I should have been there a few weeks ago with my family but the Spamalot part came up.
“I love the food and the relaxed atmosphere. It’s quite a British part of France and although it’s nowhere near the sea, they have these lovely river beaches where the kids can go and have a swim.
“But if it was a chill-out dream holiday I’d have to pick Mauritius, where Claire and I went just before our little girl Eleanor was born.
“I think we called it the ‘babymoon’ because we hadn’t had a proper honeymoon.
“We had the most fantastic time. From the little I saw of it, it’s a beautiful country and there was this great fusion of Indian and Mauritian food.
“Sadly, I have to say I didn’t get about much as my ideal pasttime on a holiday like that is to just sit on the beach and read.
“I never usually get a chance to read much so I’m happy to relax and get through five or six books.
“My first holiday memories are of Butlins. We went for the first time when I was about seven. We’d only been away on day trips before and I couldn’t believe we were staying overnight.
“It would be 1960, when Butlins was at its peak, and it was just the most magical place.
“I couldn’t get my head round the fact that you could go on as many rides as you wanted and then watch a variety show with a star like Billy Dainty or Tommy Trinder.
“That’s where my showbiz interest began. I loved those variety shows and I’d skip my evening meal and queue up to see both houses, the first and second sitting.
“That first time it was at Pwllheli in North Wales. I went back for The One Show and it’s a Haven site now.
“There was a really luxurious big caravan, which was a lot different to the kind of chalets we used to have at Butlins.
“But it’s still got the boating lake and you could see where the chairlift that used to take you down to the beach had been.
“When I was older we went to Filey once and I won the adult talent competition and had to go back at the end of the season for the area final.
“And when I was in my 20s and on ITV’s New Faces, I won a season doing late night cabaret at Butlins.
“I went back to all the camps for years, so I have a lot of fondness for Butlins.
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