LESLEY Joseph isn't simply appearing in a saucy, near-the-knuckle theatre show that she says will lleave Glasgow audiences 'hysterical.'

LESLEY Joseph isn't simply appearing in a saucy, near-the-knuckle theatre show that she says will lleave Glasgow audiences 'hysterical.'

She's helping save theatre.

Now, it has to be said the Birds of a Feather star hasn't suddenly developed a Messiah complex.

But she does believe that shows such as her latest theatre piece, Hot Flush, are just what's needed to keep theatre doors open.

"Some people don't want to go see Shakespeare, or Chekhov," she maintains. "Some simply want to go to the theatre and have a really good laugh.

"And this show ticks those boxes."

Hot Flush follows friends Myra (Lesley), Sylvia (Lori Haley Fox), Helen (Anne Smith) and Jessica (Ruth Keeling) to their regular Tuesday night get-together, The Hot Flush Club.

It's raucous and racy. And the sort of show women flock to see these days.

"This genre began with The Vagina Monologues and has been followed by the likes of Dirty Dancing," says Lesley. "They are all shows in which let you leave all your troubles at the stage door.

"Producer Michael Grandage, who does all sorts of clever, straight theatre, argued recently we really need to bring younger people into theatre. They are the future. And if we can offer up laughs and a great night out then it will work."

Lesley is well aware of providing a range of theatre for audiences. But she knows the likes of Harold Pinter plays cut it with certain audiences.

"Women love to get together," she says

"Well, men enjoy this show as well," she argues. "And there's a real balance in the show. Plus, there is lots of pathos.

"But it's really about letting the hair down."

There are some who would wonder why Lesley is part of a touring theatre show. It's hard work. And at 68, she's not in the first flush... Plus, she's now back on screen with Birds, so it can't be a question of money?

"I love theatre," she says.

"I love the reaction you get from an audience. It's almost like stand-up in a way."

She adds, grinning: "If I'm being honest, I also like the danger of theatre, knowing that it can all go wrong."

Lesley wanted to be on stage from the age of four and first trod the boards age seven. Since then she worked in every acting medium, from high drama to farce.

It was landing the role of man-eater Dorian however in 1989 alongside Pauline Quirke and Linda Robson that she became a national figure.

Birds of a Feather ran until 1998 but has since been picked up by ITV after a successful theatre run proved the nation still had an appetite for the Chigwell Three.

Now, it's been revealed it will run to at least one more series.

"Who would have thought it,"she says, smiling.

"The first theatre script we were sent didn't work; it had to be done by the original writers. But when we got a great script it all worked.

"The TV producers came to Richmond to see us and they could see we still had the chemistry.

The BBC wanted to do it, but only as a Christmas special, but ITV only took 15 minutes to decide it would be a series."

That's not to say Lesley and Co. weren't nervous about their small screen return.

"We were like cats on hot tin roofs. We knew lots of people would be saying 'For god's sake; why are they resurrecting that old turkey?' But it all worked out."

Lesley adds: "We've noticed a change in attitudes to comedy on TV, and a lot of that has to do with the success of Mrs Brown.

"There is an appetite for old-fashioned comedy."

Lesley wouldn't contemplate the notion of retiring. Not when she's still in demand.

"And right now Dorian is helping me put bums on seats for Hot Flush," she says.

"And that means we're bringing in new audiences all the time."

n Hot Flush, King's Theatre, Glasgow, Sunday.