Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

John Leslie Stages a Comeback and Guess What, He's Playing a Caddish Womaniser; A FEW STUMBLES AS FORMER TV PRESENTER GIVES HIS THEATRE DEBUT SIX OUT OF TEN

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

John Leslie Stages a Comeback and Guess What, He's Playing a Caddish Womaniser; A FEW STUMBLES AS FORMER TV PRESENTER GIVES HIS THEATRE DEBUT SIX OUT OF TEN

Article excerpt

Byline: ALEXA BARACAIA

JOHN LESLIE has made his professional stage debut as a womanising cad with a shaky performance he blamed on first night nerves.

The disgraced former This Morning presenter is Mr Wickham in a new adaptation of Jane Austen's Pride And Prejudice.

But at his low-key first night Leslie fluffed his attempts at piano playing and stumbled on a female cast member's skirt.

Speaking afterwards at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in Guildford, the former TV host admitted his performance was only worth a "six out of 10" but insisted it would get better with time.

"Before I stepped on stage I wasn't nervous at all but then when it came down to it I was physically shaking," he said.

"Personally I'd give myself a six out of ten but I think it's not a bad place to start - we'll see what happens from now on."

The onetime Blue Peter presenter was axed from TV two years ago after a string of sexual allegations against him. Charges of indecent assault were later dropped. He was also caught on camera taking cocaine.

Leslie, whose casting as the roguish, villainous George Wickham has been described as "opportunistic" by some, revealed the cast had been unable to have a proper dress rehearsal.

"We had technical problems which meant this first night in front of an audience was the first time we'd done it in full, in costume," he said.

His initial appearance in a silent masked dancing tableau drew giggles from sections of the audience.

And there were chuckles in later scenes when Leslie's character swaggered: "It seems I attract the ladies."

Dressed in 19th century breeches and jacket, Leslie treated the 450-strong crowd to a husky version of the Skye Boat Song - his personal choice - during the play.

He also gave a brief rendition of a Schubert composition which he stumbled over. …

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