Padiham singing star Andrew Derbyshire in ‘Coronation Street: The Musical’

FACE TO FACE: Andrew Derbyshire
FACE TO FACE: Andrew Derbyshire

SEVEN years have gone by since I last sat down with a brew and a notepad to interview “Padiham’s singing sensation’’ Andrew Derbyshire.

And how the boy has grown! Still the same tall, blond and handsome looks but that excitable youngster who was ready for what the world had to throw at him is gone and in his place a mature, grounded and yes, even worldly wise, young man.

Being settled in a relationship for the past 18 months and a succession of lucrative jobs is what keeps Andrew on an even keel.

But he is still devoted to pursuing his dream of stardom and success, although some would argue he has already achieved that in spades.

But the kind of success Andrew wants is when he is a household name and his latest CD flies off the shelves. A CD that contains his own songs and music.

“The dream is still there for me and I intend to work towards it and do whatever it takes and I do believe I will get there,’’ Andrew tells me.

Back in Padiham for the 50th birthday celebrations of his mum, Deborah, Andrew is instantly recognisable on the streets of the town where he grew up and nurtured his dream to become a star.

The road to success began when he was just 19 and reached the final 50 of Pop Idol, the forerunner of shows like X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent.

With his powerful voice and Union Jack shirt, Andrew was a hit who got himself noticed and, although he didn’t get any further, the show’s producer, Mike Dixon, recognised Andrew’s talent and recommended that he auditioned for a new musical called “We Will Rock You”.

Based on the life and career of legendary rock band Queen, Andrew won a part and eventually played the lead role in the show that proved to be a smash hit success.

Andrew gave up his place at the Educational Theatre School in London for the show and got his first taste of what it was like to be a star.

And it seemed that big time fame would follow when Andrew was chosen to replace Darren Day in the title role of the musical “Joseph And His Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” in London’s West End. He wowed audiences all over the country in the touring production and theatre impresario Bill Kenwright said he was the perfect choice for the role.

But even though he felt privileged to have been chosen for the Joseph role, being in musicals was not how he wanted his career to go.

“Don’t get me wrong, I love being up on that stage, it’s like home for me but I now want to be there as me,’’ said Andrew.

He launched an album a couple of years ago and although he had an agent who represented many top names in the world of showbusiness, including Barbara Windsor and Amanda Holden, Andrew felt his album was never pushed enough to set him on the road where he wanted to go. And it was ironically titled “Start of the Road”.

But Andrew is rarely out of work, from gigs and pantos to musicals and an almost constant stream of work in the corporate industry. And when he isn’t working in showbusiness Andrew is more than happy to roll up his sleeves and do a “normal” job.

“A lot of people in this business just can’t hack doing something ordinary, it really gets them down. But if that’s what you have to do to make a living while the next job comes up then so be it. I don’t mind doing it, bar work, waiter, whatever. But I think that is the northerner coming out in me, you just get on with what you have to.’’

When he first moved to London Andew loved the party lifestyle and showbusiness bashes. He said: “There was always a party to go to and I was always there. But it’s a a very false environment and definitely not good for the voice.

“But I was so young when I went in for Pop Idol and I didn’t really know who I was or what I wanted.’’

Although Andrew will always call Padiham his home, he is happily settled in Chiswick which he describes as a closeknit community, saying: “When I get off the tube and walk home I pass a row of shops and I know everyone, it’s a lovely, quiet place to live and I feel happy there.’’

Andrew realises that he could get himself a job in any of the current musicals gracing the West End but he just doesn’t want to compromise on his dream of being as big as someone like Robbie Williams, Michael Buble or Justin Timberlake.

He is set to take his place on the stage in a touring production of “Coronation Street The Musical’’ anytime now and he was chosen to sing a track on the album “Rogues, Angels, Heroes and Villains’’ to celebrate the 50th anniversary of television’s longest running and best-loved soap. And Andrew is the only artiste on the album who is a not a past or present member of the Corrie cast.

Album and show producer Trisha Ward asked Andrew to be part of the “Corrie’’ project as she has worked with him several times in the past. And later this year Trisha, a prolific songwriter, producer and composer, will be masterminding the launch of Andrew’s second album.

Family and friends of Andrew’s will travel to London for the glittering event, along with several celebrities that he has become friends with.

Andrew said: “I am very excited about this one and really looking forward to it. I really want to make my family proud, especially my mum, that is really important to me.’’

This is one accomplishment I think Andrew has already achieved.