WHEN I catch up with Jake Quickenden, he is in the gym practicing his bicep curls.

“I’m having a bit of an issue at the moment, I can’t stay out of here”, he tells me.

Considering that Jake is the crowned winner of Dancing on Ice 2018, it doesn’t come as a surprise to me that he is packing in some reps whilst we are chatting, but he assures me that it’s not just for the gains.

Star of the show in the current run of Hair the Musical, the run of which is closing at King’s Theatre this weekend, Jake is playing lead singer Berger who in 1967’s New York was resisting conscription to Vietnam in favour of a colourfully liberated life.

Although the score may be light, Jake assures me this has been one of his toughest gigs yet.

“We have two weeks left so I’m just trying to knuckle down and get through it – it’s been really tough.

“It’s been an amazing show, but it’s so demanding vocally. If I have one beer I sound like Phil Mitchell in the morning.

“People think it’s easy doing a show and it might only be two hours on stage, but you have to look after yourself all day physically, mentally and emotionally.


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“Learning lines, it tires you out. You can’t really go on autopilot when you’re doing a show, because anything can happen. When I worked as a bricklayer, you can go into auto-pilot and sail through the day – with this, you just can’t.”

Jake rocketed to fame seemingly overnight in 2012, as a contestant in the eleventh series of The X Factor and as a runner up In I’m a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! in 2014. It was in after winning Dancing on Ice in 2018 that Jake came into his own – although his role as Berger has been his hardest project yet.

“This has been so much harder than the jungle” says Jake. “Three weeks and all I did was laugh in a hammock”, he laughs.

“All I did in Australia was eat some weird food, do some trials, catch a tan and earn a bit of cash – it was easy. This is much harder.

“I even lost weight – I went into the jungle with a two pack and came out with an eight pack.

“It didn’t work out that way with Gemma [Collins],” Jake jokes. “She was craving a pack of quavers and left after three days. I didn’t even get to meet her! I was like ‘Where’s Gemma?’ I was dead excited to meet her!”

Whilst Dancing on Ice was indeed an incredibly physical role, Jake says that acting in Hair has been particularly difficult because of the mental toll performing on stage every evening takes on a person.

“My anxiety isn’t big enough to separate me from the world, but it does affect me – I’m unmotivated or a bit down on myself – self-critical, almost. The best way I can deal with it is going to the gym and getting a sweat on – pretending I’m the rock, really.”


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It would be easy to see how such a transformation in one’s life could lead to anxiety – Jake’s life now is a million miles away from his pre-fame life, six years ago, when he was working as a brick layer.

“I loved it,” Jake says.

“I wouldn’t be who I am without it. You learn a lot of skills – how to have a laugh, not take yourself too seriously because you’re always getting ripped. It’s a good job.

“Obviously my life is different but I’m not different.

“I just get naked on stage rather than getting naked in my bedroom!”

Indeed, one of the biggest changes is that Jake is now bearing all on stage in front of hundreds every evening – both heart, and kit. How does that feel?

“In the cold theatres it’s not great,” Jake says.

“Honestly, it doesn’t bother any of us now – it’s normal

to do it. It’s not a big issue.”

Jake certainly doesn’t seem to have lost any of the cheeky charm that has made millions fall for him over the country. Alongside that, he still after all, loves a good party.

“I know the Scots are a good crowd – they always love it.

“We want people to have fun as well as appreciate what we’re doing.

“We’re finishing in Glasgow and I will be heading out to drink more alcohol than I have ever drank in my life.

“If you can give us some ideas where to go, please do!”