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John Partridge/Christian Clarke Interview (EastEnders)


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Old 20-04-2008, 15:00
rzt
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From The People:

EastEnders STAR WHO PLAYS GAY CHRISTIAN IS A REAL-LIFE.. HOW WORKING CLASS JOHN LEAPT FROM TIGHTS TO THE TELLY

When actor John Partridge landed a plum role in EastEnders it was a bolt from the blue. The star who has worked in theatre for 20 years had never even thought of telly until producers came calling. But now - as Jane Beale's gay brother Christian - he's set to be as important to Walford as Arthur's bench or Dot's cigs.

In his first-ever interview John, 36, tells about being a real-life Billy Elliot, the tragic death of his dad, finding love - and that gay kiss with confused teenager Steven Beale (Aaron Sidwell, 19) that shocked viewers on Friday night.

I Hear you were a real-life Billy Elliot as a kid. What happened?
Yep you could say that. I was brought up in Bury in Lancashire, but when I was 10 I won a place at the Royal Ballet School in London. It was incredible. They only take 20 new entrants a year and I got a place so off I went to school in Richmond, Surrey.

Did you get stick from your friends and family?
I Come from an extremely working class background in a Lancashire papermill town but everybody was made up for me. It's pretty much a Billy Elliot story and actually the real-life Billy Elliot, Philip Mosley, was my mentor at school. He was great and spoke in the same accent as me, which was good because I couldn't understand what people were saying for a while.

What happened when you left school at 16?
I Went straight into Cats the musical. I was never going to be good enough to be a ballet soloist so I figured, if I am not good enough to be the best then I'm not going to do it.

So suddenly you are living in London at 16 and working?
Yep. I was out every night of the week. When I think about it now I was so many shades of wrong it's not true. But somehow I was always a bit older than my years. I was very responsible at work and always there and giving it my all. I did Cats on and off for eight years over 18 years. My knees are knackered. I've had a lot of surgery. I've had four operations on them so there's not so much I can do any more.

Your dad George passed away when you were 17. How did you deal with that as a teenager?
I Didn't have a very close relationship with him because he was a lot older. He was 51 when I was born. But I loved him and he loved me and when he died it was incredibly sad.

What happened?
At the Christmas he told us he had a tumour but said it was nothing to worry about. Because I was away, the magnitude of it didn't really register with me. I got a knock on the door at about 6am at the squat where I lived and it was the police. They said they'd had a call from Manch ester police to say that my father was in hospital and was hanging on for me to get there.

Did you manage to make it back home in time?
I Jumped on a train and got there at 5pm. My sister was four months' pregnant and my dad asked me to take her home. We left at about 11pm. He was a Scottish guy and Hogmanay was important to him. He hung on and hung on and he let the bells come in at midnight. Then my mum said to him "George you can go now" and five minutes later he passed away. At that point I still hadn't officially come out as gay. My dad dying opened that door to talk about it with my mum and that's when we started that part of our relationship. I have a great family, I really do.

What would your dad have made of you in EastEnders?
He would have loved it. He was so proud of my sister and me and the great thing was that when I very first opened in Cats he got to see that.

You live with your partner. Tell me about him.
He's called Jon Tsouras and is Greek Canadian and he is 26. We've been together four years and he's great. He's an actor and is in the Lord Of The Rings musical which means he works nights and we don't see each other much. We're like ships in the night.

Where did you meet each other?
While I was working in Berlin. I had moved there for love in 1997 and was there about six weeks when it all went wrong. Rather than come home I decided to stay. That was about three years before I met Jon. He was the reason we came back to England. He wanted to work here.

How did you land the EastEnders role?
I Was doing a theatre show and they saw me and thought I would be right.When my agent told me I had got it, I felt sick. I thought it must have been a fluke and now I am actually going to have to come up with the goods. I was terrified. Everything kicked in. I am just getting over it now.

What advice have you been given?
I Am good friends with Tamzin Outhwaite. She told me to keep my head down and just focus on the work.

Are you ready for people recognising you?
It takes me an hour and a half to get to work on the train. People keep telling me I won't be able to do that any more. So far it's been fine.

Are you worried about the reaction to a gay character?
No, not until someone says it. Coming into EastEnders is pressure enough itself.

When Steven lunged at Christian for a kiss what happened?
I think that was probably the first time Christian's been lost for words. Christian had correctly guessed Steven's a virgin but when the lad made a move and tried to kiss him there was a bit of a scuffle.

Steven tries to pretend nothing's happened by dating Stacey Slater and flaunting her?
Steven is just covering up. Christian's really not interested in him sexually - he just wants to be a mate.

I Hear you've had a few topless scenes?
i've had a few and one where I'm in small shorts in the Vic. Then I lose the shorts. I had a nice little pouch and I am carefully disguised with Roxy's kimono on. It's my first TV role, and I am in EastEnders naked. Luckily it was over in a flash, pardon the pun.
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Old 21-04-2008, 06:23
Puk
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What a great article! How sad .... about his Dad.I love him even more know, what a talented man. There was a picture of John with his boyfriend too!!!
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Old 21-04-2008, 08:05
Butterflyy
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Thanks for the article! I used to live in Bury! Bless him I love Christian so much!
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