HE'S appeared on stage half naked, been in movies and graced out TV screens for the last 17 years.
But Craig Kelly says nothing was as scary as hot-footing it on the dancefloor on a Saturday night for TV’s sparkliest dance show, Strictly Come Dancing.
“I’ve even sung in front of a similar crowd before at a charity do, but nothing was as nerve-wracking as going out every weekend and doing a dance for 90 seconds,” admitted the 39-year-old actor from Lytham St Anne’s.
“It was like being thrown out of a plane not knowing if your parachute was going to open.”
It was Craig’s dream to perform in front of his home town crowd at the famous Tower Ballroom, at Blackpool Tower, where the show was broadcast live last weekend.
But while he got his wish, he was destined to dance his last dance on Saturday. Craig performed the cha-cha to Easy Lover by Phil Collins, partnered by Flavia Cacace, but the judges weren’t impressed.
New to the panel, Alesha Dixon told him: "I can't believe Zoe's gone and I had to endure that. You're not as good as you think you are.”
And after scoring just 17 points, the former Coronation Street star was placed in the dance-off, losing out to Ricky Groves.
But being voted out of the competition isn’t going to stop Craig taking up dancing as a hobby with his wife, Camilla.
He said: “The judges were very mean to me. It was a shame really. They knew I was the local boy and they did seem to be very tough on me. I can’t really explain that. They were against me that night.
“I have never danced at all, to be honest, I thought I’d be better than I was after all the effort I put in. I’ve got to say it’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. There’s a lot to get wrong “But Blackpool was incredible. Growing up, if someone had told me that in the future I’d be dancing in front of 1,000-plus in the Tower Ballroom I’d have laughed at them.
“Unfortunately, I was only allowed five tickets. My parents, my brother, wife and auntie came. My mum and dad still live nearby so it was just a great night,” he smiled.
“I realised early on that I was never going to win it because the standards were so high. Blackpool was my final and we worked hard to get there. It feels right that the journey ended there.”
“Now my wife really wants me to take her to ballroom classes. And I’d like to go back the Tower Ballroom and dance with her.”
Although he’s not appearing on Strictly any more, Craig has been on our screens every night this week in new ITV drama Collision.
He appears in the programme alongside his actor brother Dean, of Shameless fame. The pair were cast as brothers in the five-part series, the concluding episode of which is tonight at 9pm.
“Filming for Collision was before I did Corrie, so it was about a year ago. It was brilliant. Me and Dean were desperate to work together and the scripts were great. Seeing it now getting massive figures and great reviews is a very exciting thing. It’s the type of show that could win awards.
“I’m playing the shy, hen-pecked one and Dean’s playing the rogue. In real life we’re very similar and both strong characters. There’s a mutual respect. It was a joy to work with him. We’ve never had chance before. We were both so excited and we were basically just offered the parts and we couldn't believe it.”
Craig made his name as Vince Tyler in the controversial C4 series Queer As Folk. He’s since appeared in Casualty, The Grimleys and on the big screen he played a minor speaking role in Titanic as Assistant Wireless Operator Harold Bride. He is also the voiceover for countless TV adverts.
But it’s been since Luke Strong arrived in Coronation Street that people have started talking to him where ever he goes.
“People used to know I was an actor but they might not have known my name but now people now exactly who I am. Just today I was in the supermarket and about five people came up to me, all saying ‘Hi Craig.’ They want to talk. It was nice but I’ve not really had that before, where people stop you in the veg aisle.”
Craig’s character fled Weatherfield last month after fleecing Rosie Webster of her new found wealth. But will that be the last we see of the suave Underworld boss?
“I had a great time playing a rogue. Helen Flanagan, who plays Rosie, is an absolute sweetheart but Rosie as a character is a bit mouthy. She had it coming, I think. I don’t get chance to play those sort of roles. They are juicier. So I’d never say never to going back.”
But you won’t see much of Craig for a while. He’ll be keeping a low profile and taking a well-earned rest, although if you’re a fan of The Real Hustle you’ll still hear his voice on the latest series.
“I'm not missing Strictly at all,” revealed Craig. “It’s a great relief to not have to train every day.
"I’ve been really chilling out and catching up on things that I’d had to put on hold. I’m reading a few new scripts for some plays at the moment.
"I’ve worked solidly for over a year so I need a bit of a break. I’ll be watching Strictly and I want Tuffers to win.
"We got really friendly on the show. He’d never really danced before and I think he’s found a talent.”