LIVERPOOL actor Louis Emerick has no fears about stage fright ahead of his return to Chester in the UK tour of The Full Monty.

The former Brookside and Last Of The Summer Wine star plays out-of-work steelworker Horse in the show – based on the smash-hit 1997 film – which visits the city from Monday, September 24 to Saturday, September 29.

Also starring former Hollyoaks and Eastenders actor Gary Lucy as Gaz, Dinnerladies and Bremner, Bird and Fortune star Andrew Dunn as Gerald and Hollyoaks and Casualty favourite James Redmond, the show has been a huge success debuting in Sheffield before running in the West End in 2014 and going on to be nominated for Best New Comedy at the Olivier Awards.

"It's great that there's a theatre again in Chester," says Louis. "I appeared at the old Gateway Theatre back in 1986 when I'd only just started out and I always thought it was criminal recently that Chester didn't have a theatre.

"My memory was always how well theatre was supported there and how people in the city and the surrounding areas loved their theatre. I've heard great things about The Storyhouse and it's going to be brilliant to be in the city again."

Louis is reprising the role of Horse, made famous in the film by his ex brother-in-law, former Only Fools and Horses star Paul Barber, following acclaimed appearances in the 2014, 2015 and 2017 national tours.

"It's a great piece of work," says Louis. "Like anything that's well written it stands the test of time and sadly there's still a lot of relevance there."

Among the laughs and its popular soundtrack featuring the likes of Tom Jones and Donna Summer, the original film dealt with serious subjects such as unemployment, fathers' rights and depression, with Louis keen to see the parallels between post-industrial Sheffield and today's austerity-blighted towns.

"Look at Redcar," he says. "2,000 jobs went there 18 months ago when the steelworks closed and how many towns can lose that kind of money-earning potential?

"I think about Liverpool in the early 1980s when there was a mass exodus of people because there was nothing there. It was desolate. The community we look at in The Full Monty was devastated when the main industry went but what these six men do is inspiring. They've never seen a gym in their life but this mix of people triumph and bring the whole community together .

"It was all about saying 'we're still here and we're still alive' and for me it's more a man's play than it is a women's despite the reputation it has. It got hijacked by the last two or three minutes but when you see the guys in the audience they're up shouting and jumping as much of the women - it was born of desperation that these guys did what they did and we need to tune into that."

Well known for his TV work, Louis has appeared in Cold Feet, The Bill, Merseybeat, Holby City, Doctors and as Mike Bateman in Casualty as well as his well-known roles in Brookside and Coronation Street, but he still relishes the chance to get up on stage.

"When you do something on stage you get that instant gratification," he laughs. "You can change things in an instant but when you're on screen you're in the hands of others and you wait months to see it. It's still enjoyable but you don't that same adrenalin you get from live performances."

On Corrie, Louis played Mike Thornberry, a former school teacher of veteran resident Steve McDonald who begins a flirtatious relationship with Steve's mum Liz, before leaving the soap earlier this year.

"It was great," he says. "I've known Bev Callard for 25 years and Simon Gregson for about the same time so even though I was nervous I was made to feel very welcome. They really make you feel at home and I'm pleased to say I'll be back doing some more filming in November.

"It was only supposed to be about 12 episodes originally but there's definitely some unfinished business between Mike and Liz."

In 1989 Louis, joined groundbreaking Channel Four soap Brookside and remained with the show for 12 years and he admits it's for his portrayal of struggling single dad Mick Johnson that he remains most recognised.

"I've got nothing but love for Brookside," he adds. "I had 12 wonderful years there and it was nice recently to get together with Claire Sweeney, Sue Jenkins and Mickey Starke for a reunion on Loose Women.

"I loved playing Mick, and without blowing my own trumpet, he was a bit of a forerunner because there weren't any leading black characters in any of the soaps at the time.

"Back then whenever there was a black or Asian character within weeks there was a racial issue going on but what we did with Mick was make him an ordinary guy from Liverpool who had two kids but who just happened to be black.

"I got so much love and respect from single dads and it was that ordinariness in Mick that people responded to and made them care for him when something bad did happen."

The Full Monty runs at The Storyhouse, Chester, from Monday 24 September - Saturday 29 September Tickets: £20.50 - £39.50 (each ticket is subject to a £1.50 booking fee). Group discounts available Mon & Wed (2.30pm).