Rock School teenager No 3 in pop charts

His song sounds like Blur meets Bart Simpson - and last night it propelled Lowestoft 16-year-old Chris Hardman to number three in the UK singles chart.

His song sounds like Blur meets Bart Simpson - and last night it propelled Lowestoft 16-year-old Chris Hardman to number three in the UK singles chart.

The amazing success of Checkin' It Out - which became the highest new entry in yesterday's charts and came close to knocking the Scissor Sisters from the number one slot - completes an amazing year for the teenager.

Now better known as Lil' Chris, he first shot to fame as the child prodigy in the second series of Rock School, which was filmed at The Darkness boys' alma mater, Kirkley High.

Despite only picking up his GCSE results this summer, Chris now lives in London during the week, has his own personal stylist, a £500,000 record deal, and is followed about everywhere by screaming hoards of girls.

But back home in Lowestoft this weekend the teenager seemed just as excited about a new scooter he was given by his parents on Saturday as his chart success.

“It's great to come back home and chill out, see my old friends and family and do normal teenage stuff,” Chris said yesterday. “But I'm so chuffed that I've got to number three, it's amazing.

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“Before the song came out I could have put money on it not even making the top 20 - I can't believe I've made the top three. Now I'm going to celebrate!”

For mother Karen and father Ian, the transformation of their son has been phenomenal - but Mr Hardman said last night he was finding the attention Chris is now getting a little bit unsettling.

“If we go anywhere with him these days, nine out of ten times someone will recognise him,” he said. “Every time we go to Norwich he gets mobbed by groups of girls.

“I took Chris's younger brother to see him perform in Birmingham last week and at the end of the performance Chris threw his towel into the audience. The girls all went wild and started fighting each other for who would get the towel. I had to pick my son up for fear that he would get trampled on in the ruckus. It was all very strange.”

As Checkin' It Out was finally played on the countdown at 6.45pm, yesterday Mr Hardman cracked open the champagne - before Chris returned to London for a party with record label executives.

“Number three is totally unbelievable,” said Mr Hardman. “We knew it would do well but to get that high is awesome. It's really launched his career.”

Kirkley High music teacher Hazel Johnson, who also appeared on Rock School, said last night: “Getting to number three must be a dream come true. It's absolutely superb when young people set their hearts on something and then achieve it. Chris is very talented and is a great inspiration for other pupils at the school.”

The success does not end here for Chris. Next week he is likely to get the biggest screams at two concerts at Wembley Arena, playing in front of 11,000 Girl Guides at each, along with other more established stars.

And later this month, his

12-track album is released, which is likely to cement his place as one of the most successful new solo artists of 2006.