'Big Brother' proves undoing of Holden and Dennis

John Walsh@johnhenrywalsh
Saturday 28 December 2002 01:00

The troubled family fortunes of the TV stars Les Dennis and Amanda Holden are over. After weeks of having their every move snapped by paparazzi and their emotional ups and downs tirelessly chronicled by the tabloid press, their rickety marriage has collapsed.

A joint statement yesterday informed the nation: "It is with great sadness that Les Dennis and Amanda Holden announce that their seven-year marriage has come to an end. The parting is amicable. There are no other parties involved and ... they remain close friends."

In the world of celebrity gossip, the Dennis-Holden union has been a hot story for nearly three years. Dennis, 48, is a former comedian and host of ITV's Family Fortunes, a show on which members of the public compete to see who possesses the most banal and commonplace mind. Holden, 31, is an elfin blonde of breathtaking pertness, best known for starring in the hairdressing drama Cutting It. They met in 1992, married in 1995 and, despite the 17-year age-gap, their union attracted no comment.

But early in 2000 Holden revealed she was having an affair with Neil Morrissey, the boyish star of the appropriately named comedy, Men Behaving Badly. Dennis pleaded with his wife to return; she moved with Morrissey into a rented flat. He issued more pleas, and abandoned his part in a West End play so that they could spend more time together. It worked. Holden came home.

The couple's troubled history was raked over recently when Dennis ill-advisedly joined the Celebrity Big Brother TV household, where he established a reputation for chronic flatulence, self-pitying maudlinese (especially about his wife's affair) and talking to chickens. Holden came to wish him luck at the start but was not around to greet him on his eviction from the reality show.

The tabloids were delirious. They photographed the luckless pair walking in public looking glum (or terribly in love, depending on whom you believed), they reported on Dennis's solitude and Holden's partying.

The final straw was Holden's new acting role. She is to take over in spring from Gaby Roslin in the hit musical Chicago. That was the West End play on which Dennis turned his back in 2000. In it, he played Mr Cellophane, the cheated husband whose name nobody can remember.

Holden's role was announced on 22 December. The couple are believed to have spent Christmas apart.

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