Les Dennis admits abandoning wife on their first proper date at showbiz party

Former Family Fortunes host Les Dennis has revealed he plunged his now-wife Claire Nicholson into the deep end by taking her to the Radio Times Cover Party on one of their early dates.

Strictly Come Dancing star Les was invited to the star-studded celebration after landing a spot on the magazine’s cover due to his role in Ricky Gervais’ and Stephen Merchant’s BBC sitcom, Extras.

Speaking about the memorable first date on the My Time Capsule podcast back in 2021, Les explained: “When you get onto the cover of the Radio Times, they invite you to the Radio Times Cover Party.

“So there’s been 52 covers, so you’re going along to this party at The Dorchester, I think it was.

“And you’re amongst all these people who have been on the cover of Radio Times, and usually there’s two or three people, rather than as many as there were on that Extras one.

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“And I’d just met my wife Claire, we’d just started dating, and it was the first proper date that she came with me on – she’s not in the business, and I’d forgotten!

“I’m used to going to things, and meeting people, and being star-struck by meeting so many people, but I’d got used to it over the years.

“And Claire is, on one of our first dates, coming with me to the Radio Times Covers Party.

“I remember at one point, she said, ‘what about that time when we were stood there with all these people; David Attenborough and Bob Geldof, Charles Dance, Ricky Gervais, Alison Steadman, and you noticed an actor and said, ‘oh I’m just going to go over and chat to somebody’, and you went off on your own and left me?’

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Luckily for Claire, Bob Geldof took her under his wing while Les disappeared off to mingle with other guests.

He recalled: “And what was amazing was Bob Geldof just turned to her and had a lovely conversation with her!”

Les went on to credit comedian Ricky for offering him the role in Extras, as he remembers the call as the moment his “life changed”.

He said of Claire: “She’s been the greatest support and we’ve started again.

“I’ve got a grown up son, Phillip, and we have two little kids, Eleanor and Tom.

“And out of that call with Ricky Gervais, my life has changed so much, and it’s fantastic.”

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