X Factor star Jake Quickenden stars in The Kings panto: ‘You never know how long it’s going to last – you just ride the wave’

The principals of The Kings Theatre panto, Cinderella. From left: Harry Howle as an Ugly Sister, Marcus Patrick as Dandini, Kaya Rose as Cinderella, Simon Grant as Buttons, Jack Edwards as The Wicked Stepmother, Jake Quickenden as The Prince, Natasha Barnes as Fairy Godmother and Paul Lawrence-Thomas as an Ugly Sister
The principals of The Kings Theatre panto, Cinderella. From left: Harry Howle as an Ugly Sister, Marcus Patrick as Dandini, Kaya Rose as Cinderella, Simon Grant as Buttons, Jack Edwards as The Wicked Stepmother, Jake Quickenden as The Prince, Natasha Barnes as Fairy Godmother and Paul Lawrence-Thomas as an Ugly Sister

You certainly can’t accuse Jake Quickenden of resting on his laurels.

After getting knocked out of the X Factor in 2012 before the live finals, he returned two years later for another crack.

And although he only made it to week three of that year’s live finals, he has proved to be adept at keeping himself in the public eye, with stints in I’m A Celebrity...winter sports-themed reality show The Jump and emerging triumphant on last year’s Dancing on Ice. There have also been plety of guest spots on the likes of Lorraine, The Wright Stuff and Loose Woman .

He’s now about to star in The Kings Theatre’s Cinderella as The Prince – after he made his panto debut a year ago.

But his most recent stage appearances, including a night at The Kings back in June, have been a little bit less family friendly – he’s been part of the male strip-dancing group, The Dreamboys on tour. 

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‘I won’t be taking my clothes off this time. That’s definitely something that won’t be happening in this show!’ chuckles the hunk, speaking to The Guide at The Kings for the panto’s launch.

‘I got to perform here so I know this theatre and I know some of the history, it’s great to be coming back. But this time I won’t be a Dreamboy, I’ll be a prince.’

Scunthorpe-born Jake made not only his panto debut, but his acting debut when he took the title role in Peter Pan at the Opera House in Blackpool, and he was more than happy to do it again.

‘I jumped at it when they asked me to do this. I did it for the first time last year in Blackpool and it’s just a right laugh, to be honest. When they explained I was going to be a prince in this one, I mean, every guy wants to be a prince don’t they?’

And he’s looking forward to his time here in the city – keep your eye out as the down-to-earth performer likes to get out and about when he’s somewhere new.

‘I haven’t had the chance to look around yet, but everything I’ve seen so far is really nice and everyone’s been really friendly. I’ll be looking for somewhere to have a drink – when I haven’t got a show, of course!

‘I like talking to people, I like meeting people, and it’s all about having a laugh. It’s getting to do something I love, which is performing and I get to do a bit of acting and a bit singing, so for me, it’s why not? If I wasn’t doing this I wouldn’t be doing anything else, I’d just be sitting at home and watching Jeremy Kyle, so I may as well put on a show and meet a few new people.’

After his first appearance on X Factor, Jake refused to be downhearted about it. He went away, regrouped, and tried again.

‘I thought, why not? I may as well give it another crack, I really enjoyed that first year and as far as I got and all the people on the show were lovely, and it worked out for the best.’

But he admits that it was tough at first.

‘I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, I was just gigging and on the dole. I was living at my mum’s and trying to do something that I love to do. My dad always said do something that you love, you don’t need to be earning millions of pounds as long as you’re doing something you makes you happy and you’re enjoying it.

‘I was trying to get into music, I went into the X Factor and it all paid off - it’s been around five years now and I still can’t believe it.’ 

And he puts his ability to stay in the public eye since down to the simple matter of treating others in a decent manner, 

‘If you stay nice to people and you stay grounded there’s always opportunities, and there’s other reality shows – I‘m a fan of a reality show, I’ve done a few of those. I’m sure there’ll be more to come!’

Yes, Dancing on Ice, saw Jake and pro-dance partner Vanessa Bauer lift the trophy on ITV’s revived reality show.

But it was all new to Jake when he signed up. ‘I’d never done any ice skating – it was my mum’s favourite show – she was more excited than I was when I said I’d got it.

‘Now it’s something I can add to the string of things I can do. I want to do loads of stuff and experience loads of stuff. Here I got to learn how to skate from these amazing coaches, and now I can go to the rink with my mates and look like an absolute don on the ice while they’re clinging to the side and falling over. I get to spin about and that, and they’re clinging on to the penguins which is brilliant.’

He’s hoping to get more back into his music at some point too – he’s actually been recording a new album here in Hampshire.

‘I’m back in the studio now, as we speak actually. I’m writing all my own stuff and helping produce it.

‘I got to sing at the end of Loose Women the other day, just a few lines, and the number of people who were saying things like: “I didn’t know you could sing!”’ he laughs.

‘I’m not just an ice skater, you know? I’m looking forward to releasing my own stuff again. I want it out by the end of this year, but with the amount of stuff I’ve got on at the minute, it might be difficult to find the time in the studio.’

While chatting to the likeable lad, you get the impression he really is just making the best of what comes his way, and enjoying it. But it has made him a tabloid staple, particularly with regards to his love life.

‘It’s mental really, I’m still the guy from Scunny who worked in McDonalds, all my mates are back home, I go to the same pubs back home, I try not to go to many celebrity parties, I’m not really bothered with that kind of thing.

‘I find it weird that people care about what I’m up to, or give a damn about what’s going on in my private life – I do try and keep my private life private. But it comes with the territory, if you do a TV show, you’re going to get it and that’s just one of the side of it. The other side is that I get to do all these amazing things with amazing people and do what I love for a living. So yeah, it comes with pros and cons.

‘You never know how long this kind of stuff is going to last, so you just ride the wave really.’

Jake is joined in Cinderella by Marcus Patrick, Natasha Barnes, Jack Edwards, Simon Grant and Kaya Rose in the title role.

It is at The Kings Theatre in Southsea from December 11 to January 6. Tickets from £17. Go to kingsportsmouth.co.uk.