|Coronation Street character|
|Portrayed by||Bruce Jones|
|First appearance||Episode 4223
4 July 1997
|Last appearance||Episode 6549
6 May 2007
|Introduced by||Brian Park|
|Home||5 Coronation Street|
Leslie Nelson "Les" Battersby (previously Battersby-Brown) is a fictional character and the main protagonist from the British ITV soap opera, Coronation Street, who appeared from 1997 until 2007. He was played by Bruce Jones. The character is best known for his outspoken opinions and his following of English rock band Status Quo.
The Battersbys arrived when No. 5 was bought by the Council, and a family was given the space. Les had at some time spent six months in Strangeways prison for breaking and entering. He arrived with wife Janice (Vicky Entwistle), daughter Leanne (Jane Danson) (from a previous relationship) and step-daughter Toyah (Georgia Taylor) (from Janice's previous relationship with Ronnie Clegg). Les immediately clashed with neighbours such as Curly Watts (Kevin Kennedy) and Des Barnes (Philip Middlemiss). He enjoyed wandering the interconnected loft spaces to look around the homes of other residents. This scared Percy Sugden (Bill Waddington) so much that he moved away. Les's first big mistake came at the end of 1997. He got a turkey - a live one- though. After calling it Theresa, Les said he'd slit the turkey's throat. But Toyah and her vegetarian boyfriend Spider Nugent decided to liberate the turkey. When Les swore he'd find it, he took stepdaughter Toyah in his car - but he did not notice the turkey walk right into the path of his car. After mowing down Theresa, Les commented later on, "This is champion turkey, this!", with Leanne saying, "I can't eat this, look, it's even got tyre marks on it!".
In 1998, Les's son Greg Kelly (Stephen Billington) turned up on his doorstep. Greg was born from an affair between Les and wealthy Moira Kelly and Janice feared Les would want to start up again with Moira. She was right, but Moira resisted Les's brand of charm and asked him to leave her home. He did, but he was arrested for drunk driving and banned from being behind the wheel for eighteen months. Janice threw him out of the house when learning he slept with other women and lying to her. Les was forced him to live in a camper van until he eventually won Janice round again. Greg, meanwhile, was run out of town after using Sally Webster (Sally Dynevor) for her money and then beating her. Les heard that cash was being offered for cobbles, but when he dug one up, he dropped it on his toe. He made life difficult for nurse Martin Platt (Sean Wilson) during his hospital visit, and stole drugs from the unlocked trolley. He overdosed and had to have his stomach pumped. He insisted Martin was to blame, and Martin resigned when the hospital believed Les over him. After Janice learned Les was going to spend the compensation money on a holiday with Jackie Dobbs (Margi Clarke), she told the hospital board Les had taken the medication on his own.
Toyah began to take English lessons from Ken Barlow (William Roache), as she wanted to become a writer. Les thought middle-aged Ken was making a move on Toyah and headbutted him. Toyah, sickened by Les, ran away to London to find what she thought was her real father, Neil Flynn (Tim Dantay), who tied her up in his flat. Janice and Les followed the trail and found her after she'd run away from Flynn. Les continued to alienate Toyah, as he beat up her boyfriend Spider and Toyah left home. Les continued to be a problem until Spider, who had started working for DSS, discovered Les was claiming benefits while working on the canal. Les was forced to leave Toyah and Spider alone. The DSS ultimately discovered Les's duplicity without Spider's help and Les was sentenced to 150 days community service scrubbing graffiti. He teased Tyrone Dobbs (Alan Halsall) for being illiterate, so Tyrone got his own back by spraying more graffiti each time Les cleaned a wall, and when Les helped out at a local park, Les's rowing boat was removed so that he was marooned on an island overnight.
Janice was disgusted with Les when he drank the money she'd saved for their electricity bill, and the power was cut off. During a holiday in Wales, a young man named Owen Williams made a pass at Janice. She considered his offer, but when Les was electrocuted, she realised she could not cheat on him. Owen followed the family back to Weatherfield and asked Janice to join him in Wales. Les beat him up. Janice had had enough of Les; the final straw was when he gave her a deep freezer for their anniversary.
Janice then met Dennis Stinger, Les's friend, in late 2001. When 'The Chapter' threw Dennis out, Dennis came to live with the Battersbys. Janice, getting fed up of husband Les's romantic and good-tempered ways, eventually left Les for Dennis. Ironically, when he tried to gas himself on New Years' Night, it was Dennis who came to his rescue. When Dennis tried to get Les to hospital, the car he was driving flipped over on a hill and crashed into the field below. Dennis died in the Intensive Therapy Unit of the Weatherfield General Hospital during New Year 2002 and Les suffered minor injuries. In 2003, Janice fell in love with policeman Mick Hopwood (Ian Gain). This led to a verbal confrontation and a subsequent fight between Mick and Les, which was witnessed by Curly's policewoman wife Emma. Despite the fact that Mick had initiated the violence, he and Emma committed perjury in court and got Les wrongfully jailed for six months. Janice initially applauded Mick for his "honesty", only to drop him in disgust when the truth was revealed. But despite Les' appeals she refused to have him back either.
Les meets Cilla Brown (Wendi Peters) in a pub. In no time, Cilla and her son Chesney (Sam Aston) moved in with Les, much to Cilla's daughter Fiz's (Jennie McAlpine) disappointment, and Les and Chesney get on very well. 2004 saw Cilla taking a six-week break and dumped Chesney on Les, after a fiery row. In this time, he finally came close to winning back his true love, Janice, after she decided to cancel their divorce proceedings to re-unite with Les, but Cilla came on the scene and lured him back with her larger bust and by pretending to have come into money. Janice swore never to get involved with Les again, and divorced him. At this time, Cilla dramatised an incident in which Rita Sullivan (Barbara Knox) clipped Chesney round the ear of stealing sweets from the Kabin. Rita was ordered to pay compensation of around £1000, with Cilla promising to make her pay for what she did and showing no mercy for Rita's age. However, Les felt bad for Rita as they had been friends for years and eventually persuaded Cilla out of her scheme for 3 grand. Around the same time, Les discovered his daughter, Leanne, lap-dancing in a nightclub, and brought her back to Weatherfield.
In 2005, Les dumped Chesney on the Croppers to jet off to Spain for 6 weeks, upon his return he expressed. They came back, but Chesney says he hates it at home and wants to go back with the Croppers. They then decided to get married for the "luxurious" presents they would receive from their guests. Les’s dream came true when his favourite band, Status Quo, popped in the Rovers after a concert in the area. As he approached the band with records for them to sign, they, in turn, thumped him (as they recognised him as the lunatic who jumped on stage in a concert some twenty years previous, causing a permanent neck injury to lead singer Francis Rossi). He didn’t lose his faith in the Quo, and didn’t anticipate that they would soon meet again. Cilla quickly smelt a way to make money from this and told a reluctant Les to contact his solicitor in regards to suing the band for assault. In order to avoid the bad publicity, the band were eager to settle the case with Les quickly and quietly, but Cilla’s dreams of riches were quickly dashed when accept a cash offer, settled for the band to play at the wedding reception. On her hen night, Cilla found a younger bloke on her last night of freedom, but was interrupted by a drunk Les coming home, and she passed the man off as her son, Billy, who had turned up for the wedding. but Les was too drunk to say anything and fell asleep, while the man ran off in disgust. The real Billy turned up on the wedding day morning, but told Les, who was baffled upon realising that the two men were different, that perhaps he was too drunk to even remember what he looked like. Les agreed and shrugged it off, and nothing more was said. Les and Cilla finally arranged their wedding day, despite the fact that the priest was a de-frocked clergyman, and they had to distract the real vicar while they "married." Cilla smashed Tracy Barlow's (Kate Ford) window (due to the fact that she wouldn’t hand over the bouquet of flowers for the ceremony because Cilla wouldn’t pay up) and then ran to Dev Alahan’s (Jimmi Harkishin) shop and stole some flowers, before jumping into the wedding car heading towards the church. Les was driving when he spotted a member of Status Quo, took his eyes off the road to stare in amazement, and crashed into their van (with the other band member inside). Les puts on a neck brace before "tying the knot" with Cilla, and they became known as the Battersby-Brown family. The Quo turned up at a back room in the reception (where the presents were being kept) to rest. Les walked in, and told his idols that his dream was to trash a room with expensive things in. He duly wrecked everything, and threw a wedding-present TV out of the window as Cilla walked in to inform him that he had just trashed the presents! She went berserk and started attacking Les as the Quo watched in bursts of laughter, and the reception ended with the band agreeing to put past differences with Les behind, performing "Rockin’ All Over the World" with Les as a member of the band. Cilla then went on the honeymoon with her friend, Yana Lumb (Jayne Bickerton), rather than Les.
Surprisingly it is only Les that has had affairs in the marriage, the first time with his ex-wife, Janice, during a drunken one-night stand; Cilla showed Les mercy although giving him a hard time first but forgave him. The second time was when Les suspected Cilla of cheating (when she was not). Cilla's best friend, Yana Lumb took pity on Les and showed anger at an absent Cilla who didn't ever confide in her. Yana and Les eventually slept together behind the sofa in the living room, only for Cilla's son Chesney to catch them. Cilla soon found out and pretended that she had malignant cancer, leaving Les devastated and guilty and ready to do anything for his "ill" wife. Cilla got Les and Yana to go into a bathtub full of mushy peas in the cold wind out on the street, raising £600. Cilla used the money for a holiday and leaves Les. Cilla revealed that she lied about the cancer. Eventually, her, Les and Chesney begin living together. After much grovelling, Cilla forgave Les and smacked Yana on the face, but also forgave her. A few days later, Les and Cilla made the marriage legal by registering at a local registry office. Les was last seen on 6 May 2007 when he was talking to Steve McDonald (Simon Gregson) and Jamie Baldwin (Rupert Hill) in the Streetcars office. Chesney has been closest to Les, so struggles to cope with his absence. Les has no longer been seen, but is only mentioned, and often telephoned, by Chesney. It is unknown where Les currently lives but he is referred to as being still alive and well. In 2008, Chesney gets a letter from Cilla and Les, who has changed his name back to Battersby.
In 2014, his estranged wife Cilla mentioned that she has no contact with Les anymore.
In the episode broadcast 8 January 2018, Chesney said to his fiancée Sinead Tinker that neither Les or his mother [Cilla] were coming to their wedding.
Creation and development
In 1997, new producer Brian Park wanted to bring a tougher group into what he saw as a staid program. The Battersbys were dubbed "the family from hell", and their bitter clashes with the established characters alienated a number of longtime fans. In the Battersby Family Album special, actor Bruce Jones recounted being in a pub after the episode where Les headbutted Curly Watts, and being seriously threatened if Les ever went near Curly again.
Actor Bruce Jones was suspended from the show in March 2007, following Sunday newspaper allegations of drunkenness and inappropriate comments made in the presence of an undercover reporter. In May, it was confirmed that he would not return, and the character of Les would be written out later in the year. His absence has so far been covered by a storyline of Les going away on tour as a roadie for tribute band "ZZ Top O' The Morning".
Since his departure, Les has never been seen (although he has been spoken to by Peter Barlow on screen via a mobile phone) and has only been mentioned on a few occasions, by Fiz, Chesney, Leanne, Peter, Stella, Roy Cropper and most recently, Steve McDonald.
In Dorothy Catherine Anger's book "Other worlds: society seen through soap opera" she brands Les as one of the "middle aged men" who "over the years have, stymied their wives' efforts to be accepted as respectable".