INTERVIEW: From CATS to Albert Square
John Partridge confides that he is slowly getting used to being recognised everywhere he goes.
As the actor who plays Christian Clarke on EastEnders, the attention is understandable.
“The overall response has been fine,” he tells PinkNews.co.uk when we call do discuss his support for animal charity PDSA.
“You lose your ability to people watch because they instantly know who you are – that is the biggest change.
“People have been great – they only say good things.
“I always get my standard “you are not really gay are you?”
“Everyone asks that.”
Well for the record, both John and his EastEnders character are gay. Sorry ladies.
At 37, the fame that comes with soaps is unlikely to turn his head much.
After all, he has been in the business since he was a child.
At age 10 he left Manchester to take his place at the Royal Ballet Lower School in Richmond, west London.
A shy Northern lad, he was given support from an older pupil who would find fame too.
“They give you a father figure, a 5th year boy to look after. Phillip Mosley was mine.
“We had similar background – he was from Sheffield.”
The dancer who inspired Billy Elliot, Mosley joined the Royal Ballet in 1986.
As for John, he “just wanted to work” and he certainly did lots of that.
At 17, he was in the cast of the original UK tour of CATS and stayed with the musical for years.
He has had consistent success in musicals ever since, everything from Rent, Taboo, Starlight Express to Notre Dame de Paris.
“When you are 16 of course you think about fame, and as you get out into the world and get the rejections, you just want to be a jobbing actor,” he explains.
“I can dance a bit, sing a bit and act a bit. I can always fall back on one of those!”
He says that TV was not an aspiration before EastEnders came knocking.
“To have this change of direction – I am really grateful and I feel like I am learning – it’s unusual to feel both professionally and personally fulfilled.”
John has been widely praised for playing Christian as a realistic older gay man.
Gareth McLean, who writes about soap operas for The Guardian, could hardly contain himself.
“Christian is a) obnoxious as opposed to happy/harmless and eager to befriend all and b) in possession of a sex drive. Not for EastEnders the desexualised gay man usually resident in Soapland,” he wrote earlier this year.
“The thing with cliche is that it is very easy to look at a character and say “it’s a stereotype” but the fact is lots of gay men fit the stereotype,” says John.
“I have my degrees of camp – sometimes I will be listening to Dolly and hoovering but then there is other side of me that you would never know.
“It’s important to show all those degrees of camp.
“As an actor you have to decide, as you do in real life, if you are being camp or not.
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“A lot of writers are not gay and do not actually get that.”
John Partridge will be appearing in the 2009 PDSA Pet Pawtraits calendar with his dog Tilly, available to buy from all PDSA shops and online at www.pdsa.org.uk/petpawtraits
“PDSA provides free treatment and supports good ownership,” says John.
“If you are gong to get a pet you should be in a position to provide for it – a lot of time people get a dog as an accessory. It is important to promote responsible ownership.”