Britain’s Got Talent star announces 2021 tour
- Credit: Andy Hollingworth
Chorley-based Steve Royal came third on the ITV show and is set to appear in front of audiences across the UK next year
Steve Royle has been a Lancashire institution for years and now the rest of the world is starting to catch on. His third place finish on Britain’s Got Talent threw him into the national spotlight and his phone has hardly stopped ringing since.
He’ll be on our screens again over Christmas as Crackerjack makes a return, and he’ll also be back on stage in pantomime in Blackpool and he’s putting the finishing touches to a tour which is due to start at The Lowry in February.
‘The impact has been immediate,’ he said. ‘I have an agent now and people are calling me asking how they can use me. It’s difficult because so much is unpredictable at the moment but I’m loving every minute and I intend to take full advantage of every opportunity this gives me.’
But Steve’s success hasn’t come overnight – this is his 30th year in the entertainment industry, although he knew when he was at primary school in Milnrow that he wanted to be in the spotlight.
‘I was cast as Rumplestiltskin in the school play at Moorhouse Primary in 1979 and I loved it,’ he said. ‘I loved having the attention of the audience. After that I joined Oldham Theatre Workshop and I was cast as Bugsy in Bugsy Malone in about 1984 and that gave me a real love of acting.
‘My parents were concerned about me having a precarious career so I did a degree in economic and social history at the University of Kent. I got a 2:2 and I can’t tell you how useful it has been, but my parents have finally come round to thinking I might have found my calling.’
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After uni – and a chance encounter in bar where he was invited to learn to juggle – he started work and went straight to TV. Sort of.
‘I was entertaining people as they waited in the queue to see Coronation Street and the other sets on the Granda Studios tour. I’d be walking up and down the queue juggling and telling jokes dressed as a clown or the Mad Hatter.’
While representing Granda and entertaining visitors to their stand at a holiday show at Manchester’s GMex Arena, he was spotted by the people on the stand next door. They invited him to work at Camelot – the now-closed theme park at Charnock Richard – and he spent 13 seasons there as mad Edgar, the medieval jester, comedian and entertainer.
‘The great thing about working there was that I was entertaining families at the park in the day and adults at the banquets in the evening,’ he said. ‘There was a different audience in the evening so I was able to do the silly slapstick stuff in the day and be more bawdy and sweary in the evening.
‘That really helped when I went into stand up. I was never scared about hecklers because at the banquets they’d heckle by throwing food. A well-aimed Chorley cake can hurt much more than an insult.
‘It was great. I did keep thinking I couldn’t be there for ever, but the years rolled by and I kept it fresh by coming up with new material and I was having fun.’
When Camelot closed in the early 90s, other doors opened. He has a long list of credits for television appearances, including Phoenix Nights, That’s Entertainment and – a bit of a diversion this one – an advert for a medical insurance company. He has also worked as a stand-up on cruises and at comedy clubs around the world and as warm-up man for television shows, a role he describes as ‘the hardest job on earth’.
Following his success on Britain’s Got Talent though, the 51-year-old father-of-three will be hoping to be spending more time in front of the cameras and less time dodging back and forth keeping the audience entertained in the gaps in filming.
‘For years my family have been saying I should have a go at Britain’s Got Talent and that they thought I’d do quite well,’ he said. ‘I thought I’d give it a go to prove them wrong, but that backfired.
‘Since 2020 marked my 30th year in the business I thought it might be the time. Also, I’ve done panto at the Blackpool Grand for years and this year the Opera House announced they were going to have a panto and it’d be the biggest in town. I felt a gentleman’s agreement had been broken there and to be honest I felt a bit insulted that they were suddenly doing a panto and thought it’d be better. I thought it might make our posters look a bit more impressive if we could mention Britain’s Got Talent on them. So, in a way I’ve got the Opera House to thank for all this.’
And Steve, who lives at Chorley, added: ‘I have been critical of the show in the past, thinking it was quite offensive to acts but it was so much better than I ever thought it would be. I’ve never anyone who has worked on the programme who doesn’t love it, from the cleaners to the producers and the researchers to the judges.
‘I have worked on a lot of shows and have seen people being fed up with them, not getting along and not having a great time, but there’s a real family feel to Britain’s Got Talent and everyone genuinely wants the best for the programme and for the people involved. I will never criticise it again.’
He also feels the show is playing an important role in changing the face of television, and helping to re-popularise the traditional variety show
‘Variety has been missing for too long,’ he said. ‘I grew up watching programmes like the Generation Game and the Seaside Specials and daft acts by people like Bernie Clifton and Joe Pasquale - something a bit different to people just standing at a microphone telling jokes. That seems to have been lost from television and I think that worked in my favour on Britain’s Got Talent. If I can be a part of a resurgence of variety acts on television, I’d be delighted.’
With panto, stand-up shows and television on his agenda, there’s no shortage of variety in Steve’s life these days.
* Pantomonium will be at Blackpool Grand from December 18th-January 3rd. For tickets go to blackpoolgrand.co.uk.
And The (Steve) Royle Variety Performance tour will start at The Lowry, Salford on February 6th 2021, with more dates and venues to be announced. Go to thelowry.com for tickets.
For more tour dates and more information about Steve, go to his website, steveroyle.com.