Clacton panto and X Factor star Stevi Ritchie talks about fame, love and performing
- Credit: Archant
Look out X Factor host Dermot O’Leary, former contestant Stevi Ritchie’s after your job. He talks to entertainment writer Wayne Savage
‘I’m never going to be a pop star like Olly Murs, the biggest thing to come out of X Factor in my eyes. Presenting-wise, I think that’s where my niche is. I’m good with people, I love talking to them... I’d love to take Dermot’s job one day,” laughs the former call centre worker from Colchester.
He’s currently starring as Chester the Jester in Sleeping Beauty at Clacton’s Princes Theatre until tomorrow. Ritchie, who still lives 20 minutes down the road from the theatre, is running late for a school performance due to “crazy traffic”. He’s about to get into costume when I call, his stage manager anxiously urging him to get a move on as we speak.
It’s a great show, he adds. Full of energy with a talented cast and plenty of chances to see him make a fool of himself. Chester’s the funny, cheeky chappy sort that kids will love. The role’s more full on than his part in Mission ImPudseyble - starring the Britain’s Got Talent winning pooch - which I saw at Lowestoft’s Marina Theatre earlier in the year.
“I never leave the stage pretty-much... I love these roles where I can be me and have a laugh with it. If I lose my script or go off it I can adlib and get away with it.”
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Ritchie is best known to millions as coming sixth in the 2014 series of hit ITV show the X Factor. Admitting he wasn’t the best singer from day one, he wakes up each day grateful for the massive opportunity it gave him.
“I could’ve been going back to a call centre but I haven’t and I’m really happy about that, I’m gushing. I think to myself ‘my God did I really do all that’, I have to pinch myself.
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“X Factor gives you a great platform. It’s not what you do in the show, it’s what you do after... I’m never going to be a pop star like Olly Murs, who is the biggest thing to come out of X Factor in my eyes. It was a phenomenal experience, something I’ll always be humble about and never forget my roots.”
Ritchie says the trick was to just be himself and people will either love or hate you.
“I just gave that little extra each week and eventually the public warmed to me... I thought I would go out the first or second week. I said to everyone ‘I’m going’. I was favourite to go every week and each week came and I got though. I was like ‘uh, what, really, me?’ I cried the first week I got through.”
The singer, who is about to release his second single in Japan with highly respected record producer Yasushi Akimoto and in talks of hosting his own TV show, confesses to wearing his heart on his sleeve - especially in his relationships. Which brings me to the truth about his well-publicised on-off relationship with former fiancee Chloe-Jasmine Whichello, who he met when they both competed on the X Factor. They also appeared together on Celebrity Big Brother.
“We’re not together. I’ll be honest. We talk every day. She just texted me today saying she loved me. We talk every day on the phone, we text each other. We’ve got a massive history, we’ve been through so much s**t and we do still love each other but we’re not together together. I haven’t seen her for a few weeks but I’m meant to be seeing her soon for a little chat, a meal, you know how it is,” he says clearing his voice.
“Me and Chlo, she’ll always be the love of my life. She’s beautiful, a kind person inside but things don’t happen for a reason and that’s the way it is unfortunately. Love hurts,” he laughs. “But never say never... Papers can write what they want... Chloe’s really busy with modelling at the moment, getting booked left right and centre.
“I’m doing my thing; the gigs, the panto, the little bit of TV here and there. We’re just so busy... We’re friends, it does sadden me but at the end of the day we’ve got to both be happy and concentrate on what we’re doing in life.”
Meanwhile, he’s looking forward to daughter Summer watching him in Sleeping Beauty. He laughs at the idea she’s too old.
“No-one’s ever too old for anything. Anything is possible. In the words of Simon Cowell, anything can happen. I’m 36 and I’m still trying to get my career back online. I know what I want to do, it’s just a case of keep plodding away, keep going as Shane Richie said to me. That’s what you’ve got to do, take anything with both hands and go ‘yes, I’ll take that’. That’s what I’m doing.
Sleeping Beauty runs at Clacton’s Princes Theatre until tomorrow.