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Life according to… Everybody’s Talking About Jamie star, Shane Richie

© SYSTEMShane Richie.
Shane Richie.

The former Eastenders star talks kids, drag queens and being back on stage with Everybody’s Talking About Jamie.

How does it feel to be back on stage with Everybody’s Talking About Jamie?

It’s still very strange, and it changes from city to city, but just hearing the audience again is so good.

We’re practically sold out wherever we go and just getting that reaction again – it was something I took for granted after being on stage for years, and when it was taken away from me, I thought, oh my God.

The show has become such a phenomenon in a short period of time – what makes it so special?

We did so much publicity starting in 2019 and it seemed to gather momentum during lockdown.

The show is about diversity, bigotry, homophobia, sexism, racism but at the end of the day it’s about being who you want to be and celebrating our differences. Our demographic hits all age groups.

I looked out last week and saw a group of 10-year-olds and although the language is a bit spicy the story is so important that it outweighs the language, and we go right through to pensioners looking to be entertained.

How much fun are you having playing Hugo?

Let me tell you, I’m a geezer, and I play Hugo, who gives Jamie the kick-start to wear a dress to prom and ultimately become a drag queen. I close the first half when I appear as my alter ego, Loco Chanelle.

Most drag queens take three or four hours to get their make-up on – I have 18 minutes. I’m stripped down to my pants, all dignity gone – and I’ve got five kids so I have some stretchmarks! – and I have to get into drag and go on stage to close out act one to set up Jamie’s journey for act two.

I have 40 minutes off-stage, and if I time it right the football is on. Picture me sitting in fishnet tights, with full make-up on, watching the football. I’ll Facetime my kids as well – they’re aged from 10 to 32, and I’ll pick one each night and they’re like, “Oh dad, stop, please”.

How was your experience in I’m A Celebrity last year?

Our group has a WhatsApp group and Vernon Kay texted to say it was this time last year we went into isolation for the series.

My experience of the castle was great. I haven’t watched it back – occasionally I’ll be sitting on my own doing something and I’ll remember a moment and wonder if they showed it on TV, but I don’t want to watch it back because I have such fond memories of it.

A lot of them are getting together at Victoria Derbyshire’s house to watch the first episode of the new series. Trust me, I would rather have gone to Australia, but I knew if I got chucked out then it was only four hours to get home!

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen, Tuesday-Saturday