Dancing On Ice star Ray Quinn on married life and his Liverpool childhood

Ray Quinn

Ray Quinn - Credit: Archant

Former X Factor star Ray Quinn tells how he wants to grow old in showbiz, just like another Scouse star

Ray Quinn is well and truly loved up. He and Emma Stephens, his wife and mother of toddler son Harry, are forever falling into each other’s arms as they go about the business of a photo call on the rain-lashed Albert Dock in Liverpool.



Even before this happy turn of events - matrimony and fatherhood - Ray has, through his time on X Factor (runner-up in 2006) and Dancing On Ice (winner in 2009) seemed to wear the kind of beaming smile nothing short of surgery could shift.



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Now he’s coming home to the Liverpool Empire to play Peter Pan, opposite Emma as Wendy.

‘It’s going to be magical,’ he enthuses. ‘You’ve got a great cast. Not only have you got my wife, who’s absolutely stunning - one for the dads - but also Pete Price, Louis Emerick - a fantastic bunch of people.’



But isn’t living, working and performing together a little, well, claustrophobic for a husband and wife?

‘No, not at all,’ says Ray. ‘We met working together and we’ve shared a dressing room. Me and Emma work best as a team. It’s like bread and butter. I love her to bits and working with her is even better.’



The couple met while starring together in the musical Grease in London’s West End five years ago - one of many stage successes for Ray, who has been performing ever since he went to his first dance class aged three. Going before an audience must be second nature for him.



‘You still get the nerves,’ he says. ‘You know what, I get more nervous performing in front of a small audience. But put me on a stage with lights and a script or a song to sing and I’ll have a laugh. I love it.’



Ray, now 25, grew up in Childwall, but his earliest years were spent in Knotty Ash.

‘We lived round the corner from Doddy. We used to knock on his door and run away,’ he says.



Ray would like to take a leaf out of Ken Dodd’s book now. Asked what he wants for his career, he quickly replies: ‘I want to have longevity, like Ken Dodd and Bruce Forsyth. They’re doing it because they love it. You can’t lose the love for it or it becomes a chore, a job.’



By the age of ten Ray was doing ballroom and latin dancing, becoming British under-12s number one and later ranked number two in the world. For that reason, perhaps an invitation to do Strictly Come Dancing is unlikely.



‘I haven’t practised it in a studio for a while, but it never leaves you. It’s like riding a bike, once it’s in your muscle memory,’ he says.

At 12, Ray began a three-year stint in Brookside as the bullied teenager Anthony Murray, and by 18 he was a household name through The X Factor, only losing out to Leona Lewis. Ray had been dropped and then reinstated in Simon Cowell’s final eight when the great talent-spotter had a change of heart.



‘It seemed like the end of the world...and then they brought me back,’ says Ray. ‘That was incredibly emotional. I’m not going to lie - I cried like a baby.’

Looking back, he says X Factor was an entirely positive experience. He can even laugh now about Sharon Osbourne’s derisive nickname for him, ‘panto boy’.



‘Thanks, Sharon, ‘cause that sorted me right out,’ Ray says, as he prepares for yet another season of panto. He’s not unhappy to be seen as the song-and-dance man, the all-round entertainer.



‘The music industry is one box to fill. I’ve done it,’ says Ray. ‘I’ve had my album and it was amazing. I’ve got the plaque up in me ma’s and one in my house. But there are other things out there.’


So he sings, he dances, he jokes. Is there anything Ray Quinn can’t do?



‘Golf,’ he says quick as flash. ‘I get asked on all these charity golf days and I’m a disaster. I dress the part but I can’t hit a ball. I’m like that with footie. I can dance around one, but ask me to kick it? No chance.’



Ray is clearly made up to be back in Liverpool, where he still keeps a home, though the main family home is closer to where the work is...London. He’s also looking forward to flying across the Liverpool Empire stage as Peter Pan. It sparks a memory of when he was an eight-year-old at the Neptune Theatre, Liverpool, playing one of the Lost Boys in Peter Pan, directed by Elsie Kelly, now of Benidorm fame.



‘I was desperate to fly,’ says Ray. ‘I was walking to the front, and it wasn’t my bit, and Elsie said: “Ray, get back. One day you will be Peter Pan, but for now you are a Lost Boy”.’