Joe McFadden: Strictly helped me deal with stage fright

ACTOR Joe McFadden has told how taking part in Strictly Come Dancing helped him deal with stage fright in other roles.

The Holby and Heartbeat star was touring in the stage production of Priscilla Queen of The Desert when the pandemic forced the closure of theatres around the world earlier this year.

He said the stage musical “terrified” him but that his experience on Strictly Come Dancing, which he won in 2017, helped him cope with any anxiety about performing in front of a live audience.

The Glasgow-born actor became the oldest celebrity to lift the glitterball trophy when he won at the age of 42 with his professional partner Katya Jones, although Bill Bailey has now taken over that record after triumphing this month aged 55.

McFadden said: “Having done Strictly, I’ve done the scariest thing I could possibly do – being pushed out in front of the nation trying to do a dance that you don’t know four days previously.

“So, any opening night pales in comparison to that, which was a real debilitating fear.”

In his latest role he is back on screen in an an online drama for National Theatre of Scotland.

He and Elaine C Smith feature in a new two-part follow up to Janey Godley’s two-part family drama Alone, which was first broadcast as part of the National Theatre of Scotland’s Scenes for Survival programme of online micro-plays this year.

The domestic short was initially conceived as a one-off reflection on a woman called Betty emerging from coercive control in the age of Covid and was filmed in Godley’s bedroom at the start of the first lockdown.

McFadden plays Martin, the partner of Godley’s character Betty’s son Stephen, played in an earlier episode by Jack Lowden, while Smith features as Betty’s sister.

McFadden said: “It’s a story about a big pivotal moment in all our lives. We improvised and rehearsed loads, and then jumped right into it. Caitlin Skinner, the director, picked out the bits she liked and moulded a story.

“It was collaborative, all really up for grabs, and it’s really exciting as an actor to be involved in the crafting of the story like that because most of the time you’re just given a script.

“It’s still TV but it’s also a play, so I didn’t want to rehearse it too much. But it gave me such a respect for the people making television. I had to soundproof a room, get the lighting right, run around and buy my own props, do all the stuff that as an actor you don’t normally think about.

“Then you have to film it on a phone and once or twice my camera ran out of memory. So it all had a nervous energy to it.”

He added: “It’s a poignant and timely story. These are dark subjects, but these are subjects that are coming up.”

Alone Part IV with Joe McFadden and Janey Godley can be viewed online on December 31 from 9pm on the National Theatre of Scotland’s website and on its social channels.

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