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“I’m following in the footsteps of Davy Jones from 60s pop band The Monkees!” laughs JJ who shot to fame alongside his Triple J bandmates when they auditioned for the ninth series of ITV’s The X Factor in 2012. They were then transformed into Union J when soloist George Shelley was added to the talented trio by the reality show producers.  “Davy Jones is the only other singer I know of who was a jockey first and then a performer so I hope I can do as well as he did!”

But how did he go from race horses to reality TV? “I’ve always loved to sing and do karaoke and then I got together with Jaymi and Josh and we originally called ourselves Rewind before changing it to Triple J as our names all began with J. We had only been together for about two to three weeks before we auditioned for The X Factor and the rest is history!”

But is panto something JJ will be able to do right off the hoof too? “Doing pantomime is something really different for me and I am really excited, “he says. “But I just hope I can pull it off! My bandmate Jaymi did it last year and raved about it so I thought why not? I love performing and I love theatre, but I am just a bit worried about remembering all the lines to be honest. I met the rest of the cast today and I am very happy to say they are all amazing and really nice so I am really looking forward to getting started. Maybe they will let me ride the Shetland ponies in the show too!”

Now The X Factor is back on our TV screens does JJ miss it? “I have great memories of the show and I have watched a couple of episodes this time and thought to myself ‘I want to be there!’ There are some great contestants this year and I wish them all the best.” His bandmates have famously gone on to take part in further TV reality shows – George was a smash in last year’s I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here and Jaymi shone in the recent series of Celebrity Masterchef. Is this something JJ would like to pursue too? “I knew Jaymi could cook so I wasn’t surprised to see him do Masterchef, but I would love to do I’m A Celebrity – that looks a lot of fun and George was sensational in it.”

Union J are currently taking a well-earned break while each of the band members pursue solo projects, but have promised fans they will be back next year with exciting new material and tour dates.

Pop star JJ will join forces in the meantime with BBC Radio Lancashire presenter and Grand panto legend Steve Royle; renowned Welsh actor Melanie Walters (Gavin & Stacey); bubbly children’s presenter Olivia Birchenough (Milkshake!) and comedy duo Jamie Morris & Tarot Joseph as the incredibly gorgeous Ugly Sisters, alongside the Barbara Jackson Theatre Arts Centre dancers and the adorable Shetland Ponies in Cinderella’s charming tale of magic, mayhem and misunderstandings, live on the Grand Theatre’s famous stage. It’s a fabulous, fairytale treat for all the family this festive season!

Take a dazzling carriage ride to Blackpool’s beautiful Grand Theatre this Christmas and enjoy one of the most enchanting rags-to-riches fairy stories of them all. Cinderella is a timeless tale of romance, scheming step-sisters, spectacular spells and a gleaming lost glass slipper – all sprinkled with plenty of seasonal sparkle. This fun-packed pantomime features hit songs, spectacular sets, hilarious dance routines and sumptuous costumes – including the unmissable moment when Cinderella swaps her dowdy rags for her stunning ball gown and is transported to the Prince’s Ball. But – don‘t forget, she needs to be home by the stroke of midnight or her true identity will be revealed! Oh yes it will!

Cinderella is presented by Martin Dodd for UK Productions whom have been presenting the Christmas pantomime at Blackpool’s Grand Theatre since 2003. Other productions presented at The Grand by UK Productions include; Legally Blonde the Musical, Beauty and the Beast, The Kite Runner, 42nd Street, South Pacific, Carousel, Fiddler on the Roof, Oklahoma!, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and Anything Goes.

Cinderella plays at Blackpool Grand Theatre from Tuesday 5 December 2017 to Sunday 7 January 2018 starring pop star and Union J’s JJ Hamblett (The X Factor) as the dashing Prince Charming; BBC Radio Lancashire presenter and madcap comic Steve Royle as Buttons; celebrated stage and TV star Melanie Walters (Gavin & Stacey) as Fairy Godmother; popular children’s presenter Olivia Birchenough (Milkshake!) as Cinderella and hilarious double act Jamie Morris & Tarot Joseph as the Ugly Sisters.

Book your seats today, otherwise not even your Fairy Godmother will be able to magic you a ticket to see Blackpool’s must-see Christmas show…

Tickets are available by clicking here or by calling the box office on 01253 290190.

Interview by: Sarah Jane Wright