WEST End star, celebrity cook, former EastEnders star and graduate of the prestigious Royal Ballet School – John Partridge has many strings to his bow.

Now, he has added another, as patron of Glasgow’s Movies to Musicals, which gives children and young people from all backgrounds the chance to perform in top venues with stars of stage and screen.

Formed by Glasgow Philharmonia conductor Ross Gunning in 2015, Movies to Musicals has enjoyed a string of sell-out shows ever since and recently wowed judges and viewers alike on ITV’s Britain’s Got Talent.

“This is a whole new experience for me, and what Ross has done with Movies to Musicals is amazing, it’s really special,” smiles the 50-year-old, who trained at the Royal Ballet and appeared in Cats in London’s West End at the age of 16.

Glasgow Times:

“I know what a lot of these kids are up against. My dad was Scottish, he grew up in Glasgow. We were a working-class family and if it hadn’t been for a scholarship, I’d never have been able to get to the Royal Ballet.

“Seeing some of the kids at Movies to Musicals reminds me of myself at that age. That brings me a lot of joy, like my life has gone full circle, in a way.”

John’s dad, George, grew up in the East End of the city.

“It was a hard life for him, Glasgow in the 30s, and he left as quite a young man,” says John.

“He was always Scottish through and through, but his childhood was pretty brutal, like many around that time, so he moved away.

“I’ve always felt a close connection with Glasgow, and I love working in the city.”

He grins: “Glasgow audiences are some of the best in the country. They love a good night out, and they like a good story.”

John grew up in Radcliffe, on the outskirts of Manchester.

“I didn’t know I was poor until I got that scholarship to the Royal Ballet School,” he grins.

“We never wanted for anything, but those kids – that was a whole different world. They went away skiing at half term. That was amazing to me.”

Now, he lives in London with his husband and fellow actor Jon Tsouras.

“I still get back to Radcliffe when I can. As soon as I get on that M62, my shoulders drop, and I’m home,” he smiles.

“And there will always be a little bit of my heart in Glasgow.”

John’s dad died when his son was just 17.

“I feel like I never really knew him that well, but sometimes when I look in the mirror, I see him looking right back at me,” he says.

“He was an older father, and we didn’t go to the football, but we used to sit every Saturday and Sunday afternoons and watch black and white films together. He was a smooth ballroom dancer too – that’s where he met my mum, Bridie. He loved Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire...

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“I think he saw in me a sensitive soul, and he wanted to protect me, so he always said you can go to dance classes, you can do tap or jazz, but no ballet, and no tights.”

John laughs. “See how well that turned out? He never saw me dance, actually, but he did see me in Cats, when I was 16, and he always supported me.”

He is delighted to be a patron of Movies to Musicals and is looking forward to returning to Glasgow to work alongside the young cast, who are on tour with an all-singing, all-dancing spectacular in September.

It will visit Kilmarnock Palace Theatre on September 16 and 17, Beacon Arts Centre in Greenock on September 18 and East Kilbride Village Theatre on September 24.

John explains: “My advice to these young people is try to be diverse in the work you do, and have a side hustle.”

He laughs: “I didn’t get my side hustle until I was 50! I won a cooking competition [Celebrity Masterchef, in 2018], released a cookbook, and suddenly I have this whole new thing going on.

“I was fortunate, I got Cats at 16 and by the time I was 26 I’d appeared in 14 West End shows. And then I got EastEnders which was a great time in my life.”

John played Christian Clarke, the longrunning BBC soap’s first gay character.

“That was a long time ago,” he says.

“I did that in my 30s, now I’m in my 50s – there’s a shelf life on these things and while I have popped back a couple of times over the years, but I probably wouldn’t now.”

Being in the performing arts industry can be “brutal”, he says.

“Social media can be very damaging,” he adds.

“I realise it’s part of youth culture, but in an industry that is constantly critiquing you, you don’t need to be constantly judged on social media too. Step away when you can. This profession is definitely not for the faint-hearted.”

He pauses. “But the rewards are magnificent.”

John has some “interesting projects” in the pipeline, but he cannot share the details yet, and in the meantime, he can’t wait to get back to Glasgow for more work with Movies to Musicals.

“Movies to Musicals is vital – it’s not just about giving young people access to performing, and all these wonderful experiences on stage, like Britain’s Got Talent at the London Palladium, or starring alongside big names from the west end stage,” he says.

“It’s about helping young people build self-esteem, and learn skills they can take into any world, and really, helping them work out who they are.

“That’s the greatest gift Ross gives these kids.”