Les Dennis (pictured) will return to the London stage next month, playing decidedly against type as the sinister lead in Anthony Shaffer’s classic thriller Murderer. The new production runs from 17 November 2004 to 22 January 2005 (previews from 10 November) at the Menier Chocolate Factory in Southwark, south London.

Written in 1975, Murderer is a predecessor to Shaffer’s popular Sleuth. In it, Norman Bartholomew has decided he’s had enough of his girlfriend and is going to kill her. But, after an opening that’s billed as “one of the most horrifying scenes ever devised for the stage”, things do not go as expected.

Dennis - who is probably best known as presenter of TVs Family Fortunes game show and, from the tabloids, as Amanda Holden’s ex-husband – plays Norman. His other stage credits include Chicago, Art, Me and My Girl, Don't Dress for Dinner, Skylight, Mr Wonderful, Just Between Ourselves, Cherished Disappointments in Love and, most recently, the current national tour of Kiss Me Kate.

Caroline Langrishe, who plays Norman’s wife Elizabeth, is best known from TV’s Judge John Deed, while her stage credits include Our Song, The Way of the World, ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore, Present Laughter and Private Lives. Also in the cast are Lisa Kay (as Millie) and George Potts (Sergeant Stenning).

The brother of fellow playwright Peter Shaffer, Anthony Shaffer made his mark on the big screen with films like The Wicker Man, Hitchcock’s Frenzy and Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile.

Murderer will be directed by Adam Speers and designed by by Simon Scullion. It’s presented by David Babani and Danielle Tarento for Menier Chocolate Factory Productions. The Menier’s last main-house production, the New York one-man hit Fully Committed, has now transferred to the West End's Arts Theatre (See News, 23 Sep 2004).

- by Hannah Kennedy