Gary Lucy talks about why he loves life in Essex
PUBLISHED: 16:04 09 April 2010 | UPDATED: 17:01 20 February 2013
Gary Lucy takes a break from Dancing on Ice to talk to Pat Parker <br/><br/>about why he loves life in Essex, his plans for the future and why<br/><br/>he enjoys doing his bit for charity at Haven House hospice
ESSEX heartthrob and former star of The Bill, Footballers Wives and Hollyoaks, Gary Lucy, grabs a few minutes to talk to me while being driven from his Chigwell home to a training session for ITVs Dancing
After succumbing to a serious knee injury, there had been fears he would have to pull out of the show, but, despite being in some pain, he managed to perform his Westlife routine with skating partner
Garys charm, positivity and determination to improve have made him one of the most popular contestants in the competition, after a start that found him in the skate-off with Bobby Davro. Its been a steep learning curve. Ive never really skated before, Gary explains. I went a few times as a kid to the Lea Valley or Romford rinks, but not often, and not since then.
Gary was born in Whipps Cross Hospital 28 years ago and grew up in the South Woodford area, the son of market traders. He attended Our Lady of Lourdes primary school in Wanstead and later Trinity Catholic High School in Woodford Green, both of which hold fond memories for him. Trinity was a fantastic school, he says. It surprises me, but every year I bump into different people from my industry who went there. Its amazing, because the school never pushed us into acting. So is he a good Catholic boy? Thats between me and God!
Essex is home for me. Weve got great local amenities and its easy to get in and out of town. Were happy here
Football-mad as a lad, Garys first acting break came at the age of just 15, with a role in the football-based drama Dream Team. He was due to enter the sixth form when the offer came of a part in the Channel 4 teen soap Hollyoaks. At 16, I left home to move to Liverpool, where it was filmed, says Gary. It was a fantastic opportunity, but quite a challenge.
Gary played the part of Luke Morgan, who became the victim of male rape a controversial subject which had never been handled on television before. The compelling and sometimes anguishing storyline won him many plaudits, including the 2000 best newcomer prize at the British Soap Awards.
Returning to his home turf of Essex, he went on to gain an even higher profile as Kyle Pascoe, husband of the ill-fated Chardonnay in ITVs hit series Footballers Wives. The high profile show brought him fame and notoriety within the tabloids which reported a string of sexual escapades involving the young soap star.
Some of it was true, and much of it was not, Gary says now. I was a young lad and I wish Id had half the experiences they wrote about.
But a lot of it was vastly exaggerated and Ive got no regrets at all.
In 2004, Gary starred alongside his hero and fellow Essex actor Ray Winstone in the ITV drama Shes Gone, before taking on the role of
Will Fletcher in The Bill. He stayed in the series for four years, leaving
It was a very happy time, says Gary. My character progressed from police constable to detective constable and I was working with some great actors. But Ive never done more than three or four years on one show and I decided last year to leave, because I wanted to try different roles and stretch myself.
His time on The Bill coincided with the first four years of his daughter Indias life, so personally it was a happy time for him also. He is devoted to his little girl, who has been seen every week in the audience of Dancing on Ice, excitedly cheering on her dad. Shes my little monster, Gary laughs affectionately. Butter wouldnt melt, you know? Shes lovely.
Gary is now a settled family man, and says he would love more children in the future. He met his partner, Natasha Gray from Brighton, six years ago through mutual friends and they have been together ever since. Natasha works as a paediatric nurse at the Haven House childrens hospice in Woodford Green, where she cares for terminally ill children. Its a great job, says Gary. I have enormous respect for her to be able to do it.
Gary is now a proud patron of Haven House and has raised no less than 60,000 for the hospice by appearing on celebrity editions of ITV quizzes Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?, Family Fortunes and Mr and Mrs. Ill do more if the opportunity comes up maybe Anne Robinsons show, The Weakest Link, says Gary. You never know whats around the corner. But I do what I can for Haven House because I think its a fantastic cause. It does great work, its local, and we need to get behind them as much as possible.
Gary expects he and Natasha will get married, at some stage. They love their life in Chigwell and Gary enjoys being close to his family. Essex is home for me. Its safe for India, weve got great local amenities and its easy to get in and out of town. Were happy here.
In the true Essex mould, Gary is also a bit of a entrepreneur, having launched his own real estate and car-selling companies. I just enjoy setting up businesses and watching them grow, he says. I like to have a lot going on and business keeps your feet in the real world.
He and the family enjoy spending time at their home in Majorca and Gary hopes to buy a house in Brighton, so that Natasha can see more of her family.
After quitting The Bill last year, Gary appeared with Pauline Quirke in the BBC drama Missing. But he has a completely different project in mind for later in the year.
Im looking at a West End play about Kurt Cobain, telling his life story and also acting as his alter ego, he says. A theatrical portrayal of Cobain, the lead singer of rock group Nirvana, would certainly be a radical departure for Gary, whose career up to now has been based on TV drama.
For the moment, though, hes focussed on doing his absolute best in Dancing on Ice. We practise three or four hours a day, five days a week, and then spend all day rehearsing on Sunday, he says. Does he get nervous before the Sunday performance? Yes, of course, he replies. Its the unknown. But you just go out and do it, and hopefully youve got luck on your side.
As a 28-year-old TV star with legions of fans and a family he adores, hes certainly had luck on his side to date.
More on Gary
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