WHAT becomes of the broken heart-throb? OK, Nicholas Ball is not broken, but why let the facts get in the way of a good play on words?

The veteran actor shot to fame on the box in the 1970s as detective Hazell. It was the the golden age of TV, millions of viewers squashed into just three channels and people became instant household names.

Forty years later, via stints in EastEnders and Footballers' Wives, Ball's latest TV gig is playing Lenny Henry's manager in a Premier Inn advert. 

The former pin-up, 69, is also returning to the Liverpool stage for the first time in three decades - in a dark social satire, New Dickensian, at The Lantern Theatre. 

With the present day rise of food banks, mass homelessness and street begging, the show, which is a one-nighter on December 10, asks if we have returned to the bleakness of Charles Dickens’ era. 

Dickens was a committed campaigner for the abolition of the Victorian workhouses, including the notorious Birkenhead institution, and his fictional works drew inspiration from his many visits to Liverpool, where he held his famous penny readings at St George's Hall.

The show, which is a mix of verse and song, also features the debut performance of Wirral singer Leah Taaffe.

*New Dickenisan, Thursday 10 December 2015 – 7.30pm, The Lantern Theatre, 57 Blundell Street, Liverpool, L1 0AJ. Tickets here or  0151 703 0000.