Holby City and Joseph star Lee Mead reveals his dream role ahead of new tour
PUBLISHED: 14:42 04 February 2019 | UPDATED: 11:19 05 February 2019
From working with Andrew Lloyd Webber to the wards at Holby City hospital, since winning talent show Any Dream Will Do in 2007 Lee Mead has enjoyed a successful career on stage and screen.
Although he was already working at the West End in the Phantom of the Opera ensemble when he auditioned, playing the title role in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat opened many doors with theatre roles including as Fyero in Wicked and Caractacus Potts in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
He has also released five albums and currently plays Lofty in BBC drama Holby City and Benedict Cumberbatch’s mum Wanda plays his grandma.
In his latest tour ‘My Story’ Lee, who grew up in Southend, reveals the highs and lows of over a decade in the spotlight and the role he still wants to play.
What can people expect from the tour?
I’m really nervous as there will be music but there will also be more of an insight into my life which I have never done before.
I thought it would be nice to do a show with photos of me growing up and the great stories from my career and there will also be a Q&A.
There will be songs from Joseph, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and other songs like Pure Imagination from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and Make You Feel My Love by Bob Dylan.
What was it like taking part in Any Dream Will Do and working with Andrew Lloyd Webber?
Prior to the competition, I did a few musicals including Phantom of the Opera, where I was in the chorus and an understudy, and Miss Saigon.
I saw Graham Norton on TV saying could you be the next Joseph and I thought that I could and there was over 10,000 people that entered and 30 auditions before the main show.
Andrew is a genius and when I was in the final three we went to Mallorca with him and he played the chords to Love Never Dies (the title song in the sequel to Phantom of the Opera which opened at the West End in 2010) whilst the others were in the kitchen and I was one of the first people to hear those notes and it was a surreal moment.
Did you feel a lot of pressure playing Joseph and what was your favourite song?
Initially I did as I was playing a leading role for the first time and there was a film crew following me backstage for a documentary, but I had been performing on stage for a while prior to the show so I felt ready.
My favourite song was Close Every Door as it is a great acting piece and I got the greatest compliment from Andrew Lloyd Webber when he said I was the greatest actor to play the role and I still get goosebumps when I sing it and will be on the tour.
How did the role open doors for you and what has been your favourite character to play so far?
I was on TV to 14 million people over 12 weeks and it put me on the radar and showed what I could do.
It has led to roles in Wicked and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, got me a record deal and the chance to tour my own show which I have been doing for the past five years.
Another highlight was playing Prince Charming in Cinderella at the London Palladium in 2017 which sold out 10 shows a week and when Nigel Havers went on stage in the first scene I saw 2,500 people looking out and thought how incredible it was.
You are currently playing Lofty Chiltern in Holby City - what has been your favourite storyline?
One of the best things is working with Wanda Ventham who plays my gran in the show and is also Benedict Cumberbatch’s mum.
She is in her 80s and it is lovely to hear her talk about him on set and all his funny stories and his next film in Hollywood.
When Lofty wanted to be with Dom it was great to see his relationship with his grandma.
As someone in the public eye, why do you think it is still important to keep some things private?
I am proud that I have not given one interview about Denise (Lee and Denise van Outen met whilst she was a judge on Any Dream Will Do and have a daughter together) and whether if you’re in the public eye or not a marriage break-up is hard.
Some people do speak to the press and it is alien to me as we both absolutely adore Betsy and want the best for her and are good friends.
I also have dyspraxia which means I have problems retaining information but I kept quiet at the start of my career as I wanted to be judged on my talent.
It was hard for me processing information and learning scripts for auditions and I thought it would hinder me but now I tell directors and ask for scripts early and to be given a bit more time.
Is there a role you would like to play you haven’t yet?
I would love to play the Phantom one day as it is Andrew’s greatest work and has beautiful music and is about a guy who just wants to be loved.
I’m 37 and am almost the right age as you need to be late 30s or early 40s.
I want to keep playing Lofty but also would like to do a great TV drama at the right time.
Lee Mead is coming to Felixstowe Spa Pavilion on March 23, the Mercury Theatre in Colchester on April 5 and Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds on June 1.
You can purchase tickets at spapavilion.uk, mercurytheatre.co.uk and theatreroyal.org