AS Coronation Street’s Les Battersby, actor Bruce Jones became one of UK TV’s most recognisable characters.

Bruce’s 10 years on the cobbles of Weatherfield were never short of drama both on screen and off all of which makes him the perfect pick to play the classic pantomime villain Abanazar at The Muni in Colne.

“I’m on my ninth panto now,” laughed Bruce, who left the Street in 2007. “I took a year off last year because I’d just moved house and I fancied a Christmas off, but I’m really looking forward to it.”

Brought up in working-class Manchester, Bruce first tried acting aged 11, before roles in Band of Gold, The Full Monty and a memorable appearance in Shane Meadows’ film Twenty Four Seven saw him audition for Coronation Street.

“Pantomime is totally different to what I’m used to but it’s all about what I was trained to do as an actor years and years ago,” said Bruce. “I love doing it. Sometimes you can just switch off from the character and interact with the crowd and then suddenly go back in. When you are in films or TV it’s all stop and start and you can change things but here if you forget what you’re doing you’ve just got to make it up and keep going!”

Best known for his outspoken views and love of Status Quo, Les was a wonderful character for Bruce to play even if it was sometimes hard to separate the two in the minds of fans.

“I always get the bad guys,” he laughed. “Fleshcreep and Captain Hook and all those parts where you’ve got to change your voice and scare people to death. I can get away with a lot, especially with the audience, because I’m the bad guy. I get booed a lot but I can give it back to them and be really nasty.

“The kids love it, the parents love it and we love doing it - I get people shouting out ‘Les!’ at me all the time. The Battersbys were great characters and we made them how we wanted to - Les said things the people wanted to say and the most asked question I get is ‘when are you going back?’”

This year looks like being a busy year for Bruce who is carving out something of a niche for himself in horror films after some well publicised personal problems with alcoholism and depression.

“I’m on my fifth horror film now,” he said. “Then I do number six in April and then they write another six so it’s 24 in total. We all tend to get killed and come back in the next one!

“I’m proud of my film work and the fact it’s still ongoing. The films I’m doing now do well in America and hopefully I’m going to Mauritius to do one next year.”

Back to the panto and Bruce, 66, says he is looking forward to working with the cast, which also includes X Factor’s Sean Smith as Aladdin and former Emmerdale star Kelsey Beth Crossley as Princess Jasmine.

“We’re altogether for six weeks with four weeks in Barrow and then two weeks in Colne,” said Bruce. “I’ve made some great friends through doing panto, especially the comics who are brilliant. We all go out together and have meals because we are all in such close proximity to each other for all that time.”

As for visiting Colne, it will be Bruce’s first time at The Muni but one which he is looking forward to.

“I’ve never been to Colne or Barrow,” he added. “We never get much time to explore unfortunately because we’re often doing three shows a day but I love having a walk around and getting to know the place. I hate it when you don’t get to do that - you come away thinking ‘where I have been and what have I done?’ I don’t even know if they’ve got a cathedral or anything to see!”

Aladdin, Colne Muni until Sunday, January 19. Details from 01282 661234 or