Joe McFadden on his role in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert
- Credit: Archant
Many of us will know Joe McFadden as the 2017 winner of Strictly Come Dancing, or as a familiar face on Holby City – but now he’s trying on a new crown in the stage show of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert
It's fair to say that the last couple of years have been quite the whirlwind for Joe McFadden. After becoming Strictly Come Dancing champion, he went on tour with the show before then touring with The House on Cold Hill earlier this year. When we speak in the spring, he is right in the middle of performances, but if that isn't enough, he's also in the early stages of preparation for his new role in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, coming to Manchester's Palace Theatre this month.
Joe has hardly left our television screens or the theatre stage since the age of 12 when his career was kick-started with his role in the detective series Taggart, quickly followed by appearances in series such as Take the High Road and Sex, Chips and Rock and Roll.
'Thinking back, I really didn't know how lucky I was,' he reflects. 'The jobs kept coming in thick and fast and they were some really fantastic jobs too.'
However, it was his move into the world of theatre which cemented his career as an actor.
'Doing theatre was a terrifying concept, but I'd just signed up with this big agent in London and he said I absolutely had to do it,' Joe says. 'It was the best advice he could have given me.' He spent time at Theatre Clwyd, before going on to star in shows such as Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and in the title role in Aladdin.
More recently, Joe has become a familiar face on our televisions screens in Heartbeat, as well as with his four year stint on Holby City. Joe was then given the opportunity of appearing on Strictly Come Dancing, something which - although he is no stranger to the main stage - would throw him out of his comfort zone entirely.
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'I was quite reticent in the beginning about whether or not I should do it, but I think it's really good to challenge yourself,' he says. 'I wanted to learn how to dance and being in my 40s I thought it was probably my last chance to do it.'
The risk paid off with Joe and his partner Katya Jones waltzing their way to success to take the coveted glitter ball, with a staggering 13 million of us tuning in to the final. Not only was Joe the oldest ever champion at 42, but he was also the first Scottish winner - 'that's my most proud accolade,' he chuckles.
His dancing skills will no doubt come in useful as he takes to the stage for Jason Donovan's sparkling production of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert this year. The show is based on the film, which follows the tale of two drag-queens and a transgender woman as they travel across the Australian outback aboard their bus, Priscilla. Joe will star as Tick, who is also known as Mitzi, the drag queen- and while the show will feature all the popular songs and accompanying sequins and pizzazz, he explains that it will also be touching on pressing topics such as dealing with homophobia, acceptance and self-discovery.
'The film was a real trail blazer and it was the first time in which a lot of us became aware of transsexuals and the issues they faced. It's sad that these issues still have to be dealt with, but that's why shows like Priscilla are so important.'
The show will also see him perform in drag for the first time, something which Joe is looking forward to when we chat. 'It's going to be really fun exploring who Mitzi is as well as who Tick is,' he explains. He adds that he's also looking forward to performing in Manchester in November, a place which brings back fond memories.
'I love Manchester,' he smiles. 'The audiences are brilliant - they're really up for having a good time.'
With the talent and infectious charm of Joe McFadden and with the promise of more glitz and glamour than ever before, audiences at the Palace Theatre are truly in for a treat.
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