Rinse chicken; pat dry with paper towels. Season body cavity with salt and pepper. In a small bowl combine 2 tablespoons of the melted margarine, 2 tablespoons of the dry sherry, 1 tablespoon of the fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon of the dried thyme, and 1 teaspoon of the orange peel; mix well. Brush bird with sherry mixture.
For stuffing, in a medium skillet cook apples, onion, and celery in remaining melted margarine about 5 minutes or until tender. In a large mixing bowl combine apple mixture with cubed French bread, prunes or apricots, grapes, orange juice, remaining dry sherry, remaining fresh or dried thyme, and remaining orange peel. Mix well. (Stuffing will become more moist while cooking.) Spoon some of the stuffing loosely into the neck cavity. Pull neck skin to back; fasten with a small skewer. Lightly spoon the remaining stuffing into the body cavity. Tuck drumsticks under the band of skin that crosses the tail. If there is no band, tie drumsticks to the tail. Twist the wing tips under the chicken.
Place stuffed chicken, breast side up, on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. Insert a meat thermometer into the center of one of the thigh muscles. The bulb should not touch the bone. Roast, uncovered, in a 325 degree F oven for 1-3/4 to 2-1/2 hours or until meat thermometer registers 180 degrees F to 185 degrees F At this time, chicken is no longer pink and the drumsticks move easily in their sockets. When the bird is two-thirds done, cut the band of skin or string between the drumsticks so the thighs will cook evenly.
Remove bird from oven and cover it with foil. Let bird stand 10 to 20 minutes before carving. Makes 10 servings.