Table of Contents
- You’re in panto this Christmas. Do you miss being away from home for the festive period?
- How will you spend Christmas Day, then?
- Who are you playing in panto this year?
- Did winning Strictly Come Dancing with dance partner Katya Jones change you?
- Would you love to go back and dance on the show?
- Who do you tip to win this year’s Strictly?
- How young were you when you started on TV?
- What was it like playing the heartthrob policeman in Heartbeat?
- Would you like to do more TV?
Joe McFadden loves to entertain during the festive period (Picture: David Fisher/REX/Shutterstock)
Actor and Strictly Come Dancing winner Joe McFadden, 47, on being a child star and why he’s happy to spend Christmas Day alone, not home.
You’re in panto this Christmas. Do you miss being away from home for the festive period?
I don’t actually. I’ve lost both of my folks, so I don’t really find it too hard. In fact, I enjoy having a show to plough my time into.
Even though I’ve still got family in Glasgow, they’ve all got their families, so you have to decide what you want to do with your own Christmas. Entertaining families in panto and becoming part of their Christmas tradition is a lovely way to spend the festive season – it feels a really nice thing to do.
This year I’m at the Grand Theatre in Swansea in Beauty And The Beast. Last year I was in Basingstoke, again doing Beauty And The Beast, and in the past I’ve been in Aladdin at the Old Vic, with Ian McKellen.
After panto I’m on tour in Agatha Christie’s The Mirror Crack’d. I quite like being away. I think it comes from being an actor and being in hotel rooms from such a young age.
How will you spend Christmas Day, then?
I’ll probably find a nice hotel in South Wales. I’ll maybe go and be with some friends or I might just lock the door and have a nice easy day to myself, which I have done in the past.
It’s not the way you want to spend every Christmas, but now and again, especially if you’re working a lot, it’s quite nice to shove on some classic Christmas films – It’s A Wonderful Life, Elf and Die Hard – get a nice bottle of wine and just chill out.
Who are you playing in panto this year?
It’s a very funny part – his name is Barry Island. He’s the Gaston character who is vying for Beauty’s attention and she wants absolutely nothing to do with him. It’s a part I’ve never played before – I usually play princes or the hero, so for once it will be nice to be a bit of a villain. The villain is much more fun than being the winsome, happy one.
Joe is playing villain Barry Island in panto this year (Picture: Swansea Grand Theatre)
Did winning Strictly Come Dancing with dance partner Katya Jones change you?
It made me more fearless and it’s made me say ‘yes’ to more things. I was very scared going into it and my only ambition was to survive the first week.
People say, ‘Oh, you must have known you were in with a chance of winning,’ but I absolutely didn’t. You can see that from mine and Katya’s reactions when we actually won it.
It’s also made me braver on opening nights. I was nervous on the opening night of The Mirror Crack’d and thenI thought, ‘Oh, but it’s nothing compared to Strictly.’ Everything pales in comparison to that. It was the scariest thing I’ve ever had to do.
Would you love to go back and dance on the show?
Even just hearing the theme tune fills me with fear! It brings all the pressure flooding back. I’m so grateful that I did it and it was a wonderful experience, but it wasn’t an easy experience, so I don’t think I’ll ever go back – I haven’t really kept up the dancing. I’ve done little bits – I did a bit in the musical Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert, but Katya would not be happy with me!
Who do you tip to win this year’s Strictly?
Joe says Katya Jones worked wonders with Tony Adams (Picture: Guy Levy/BBC/PA)
Katya worked wonders with Tony Adams [before he pulled out due to injury]. I can imagine what she put him through in the rehearsals! Hamza, Kym, Helen, Tyler and Fleur are all brilliant but it’s hard to call the winner – I thought James Bye was going to go all the way.
How young were you when you started on TV?
I was 12 when I was chosen to be in Taggart and then at 15, I went into Take The High Road. It was the biggest show on TV in Scotland – it was even bigger than football.
Being that well-known I felt like I had to behave myself a little bit, which was probably a good thing – it meant I never had those wild, teenage years that some kids have.
I stayed for six years and when I was 21, I left and moved to London. I was anonymous again, which was a relief. Nobody really cared who I was.
Joe as heartthrob copper PC Joe Mason in Hearbeat (Picture: ITV/Shutterstock)
What was it like playing the heartthrob policeman in Heartbeat?
My mother, God rest her, had never been more excited about me getting a job. I really enjoyed it for that reason – that she loved it and I knew that she was going to be watching it every week.
I remember the same year I got into Cranford, which I was thrilled about, because Judi Dench and Imelda Staunton were in it, and my mum wasn’t really that bothered. But then when I got into Heartbeat it was like I’d landed the best job in the world.
Judi Dench as Miss Matty in Cranford, which Joe says he was thrilled about working on (Picture: BBC)
Would you like to do more TV?
Yes, if the right parts came along but I’m not wishing my life away and I’m just as happy in the theatre as on TV. It’s a different discipline, because you’re with a company, you’re moving around and you’re telling a story from start to finish. But then Holby City was so lovely because we got to go home every night. I feel very lucky that I get to do both.