It feels good to be flex­ing the act­ing mus­cles again

Ready for a good stage fright? MAR­ION MCMULLEN finds out how last year’s Strictly champ Joe McFad­den is pre­par­ing to spook au­di­ences with a ghostly thriller

Llanelli Star - - Spotlight -

How did you cel­e­brate win­ning Strictly Come Danc­ing last year?

I WENT to Barcelona, and it was a re­ally nice way to un­wind from it all. Strictly is such a big show and you don’t re­alise how pop­u­lar it is.

It felt like ev­ery­one in Bri­tain was watch­ing it, but you’re not re­ally aware of that at the time be­cause you are so busy re­hears­ing.

How tough were the dance re­hearsals?

(LAUGHS) It was the fittest I had ever been. We were re­hears­ing 10 hours a day. I was a mass of aches and pains. I had pains in mus­cles I didn’t even know I had and lots of blis­ters.

I watch the dances now and I think ‘my hip was out that week and my neck was locked there.’

What has it been like since Strictly?

PEO­PLE ask ‘Do you still dance?’ and I just laugh. You don’t take up danc­ing in your 40s. You give up danc­ing. Your mus­cles pack up. I’m cer­tainly not look­ing at Covent Gar­den or the Opera House, but I’ve got good skills if I do a mu­si­cal.

Are you look­ing for­ward to start­ing 2019 by scar­ing au­di­ences with the world premiere of best­selling au­thor Peter James’

The House On Cold Hill?

IT’S re­ally, re­ally ex­cit­ing. There is a mas­sive ap­pre­ci­a­tion for Peter James’ work and the two plays that have been done be­fore have both been very suc­cess­ful. I’m a mas­sive hor­ror fan, I re­ally am, and I do love scary stuff.

How would you de­scribe it? MOST ghost sto­ries are set in the Vic­to­rian era, in the past, but this is a con­tem­po­rary set­ting about a fam­ily who move from the city to the coun­try and we very quickly learn that all is not as it seems with the house and the fam­ily.

It’s great as an ac­tor to get your teeth into and it’s good to wind the au­di­ence up like a tight spring and have them jump out of their seats. It’s funny in places as well and it’s both a modern thriller and ghost story.

So not much chance for any danc­ing?

(LAUGHS) You say that, but at one point (voice as­sis­tant) Alexa starts play­ing this mu­sic and my char­ac­ter has a bit of a dance in the house on his own. The some­one comes in and says: ‘I don’t think we’re go­ing to see you on Strictly mate.’ It’s my favourite line in the play. Maybe that’s why they gave me the part.

When was your last stage show?

IT’S about five years since I was last on stage. I did Torch Song Tril­ogy at the Me­nier Choco­late Fac­tory. That’s the show that the pro­duc­ers of Holby City came along to see and led to me work­ing on the TV se­ries.

I’ve been lucky to have done a lot of tele­vi­sion over the last few years, but it feels good now to be flex­ing the stage act­ing mus­cles again. I think it’s a good thing for an ac­tor to do.

When did the act­ing bug first hit?

I HAD a fan­tas­tic drama teacher in Glas­gow who used to in­vite TV direc­tors to come along to see our pro­duc­tions and I ended up on Tag­gart.

(Chuck­les) I ob­vi­ously looked like the sort of boy whose fa­ther had his head chopped off – young and wide-eyed and like a vic­tim.

I never had the guts to go to drama school. I didn’t have that self-be­lief. It’s such a com­pet­i­tive in­dus­try.

I fell into tele­vi­sion and I learned on the job. I taught my­self to an ex­tent and I’ve taken voice lessons and singing lessons over the years.

What was a turn­ing point for you?

THE BBC mini-se­ries The Crow Road changed my life. I’d al­ways done soap op­eras up un­til then and I re­mem­ber think­ing ‘this is re­ally good qual­ity tele­vi­sion’ and I was scared I was go­ing to mess it up. But it’s good for you as a per­son to do things that take you out of your com­fort zone.

I signed with an agent down south af­ter The Crow Road and it opened a lot of doors for me. I did Cran­ford with Judi Dench and Eileen Atkins, was in Aladdin at the Old Vic with Ian McKellen and there has been Heart­beat and Holby as well.

For a long time I think I was a bit be­mused by it all and thought it was not go­ing to last. Even now, 30 years on, I still love act­ing so much and I think I’ve been very lucky to have done so many things, like Strictly.

How do you like to re­lax? I GO for walks with my dog, a cock­apoo called Dou­glas, and I just en­joy nor­mal stuff – watch­ing scary films like the Hal­loween, Scream and In­sid­i­ous movies and go­ing to the the­atre to check out what ev­ery­one else is do­ing.

I might go to the gym in Jan­uary to lose a lit­tle bit of weight I’ll prob­a­bly put on over Christ­mas, but that usu­ally only lasts for a few weeks.

I’ve done Dry Jan­uary in the past as well and I might give that a go again for 2019. ■ The world premiere of Peter James’ The House On Cold Hill tours the UK from Jan­uary 23. Go to pe­ter­ for de­tails.

Joe lifted Strictly’s glit­ter­ball tro­phy in 2017 with his dance part­ner Katya Jones

Joe as Dr Jack Marsh­land in Cran­ford Wth his The Crow Road co-star Va­lerie Ed­mond Joe starred along­side fel­lowSir Ian McKellen (cen­tre), Sam Kelly, Cat Sim­mons and Mau­reen Lip­man in the panto Aladdin in 2004

Rita Si­mons stars with Joe in The House on Cold Hill from Jan­uary next year

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