Richard Fleeshman to support Elton at Holkham

Kathryn CrossMulti-talented Richard Fleeshman supports Sir Elton John in his concert at Holkham Hall on June 14. He spoke to Kathryn Cross about his transition from the Corrie cobbles to sharing the stage with one of the greatest music-makers of all time.Kathryn Cross

'If anyone had told me last year that I would be touring with Elton John and writing my next single with him I would not have believed it.'

If Richard Fleeshman has to pinch himself every day to check it is really happening then you can understand why. His CV would make any young aspiring actor or musician weep with envy because not only has he enjoyed a four-year stint in one of the most successful British soap operas. he has proven himself an accomplished musician with a stunning voice - and all before his 20th birthday on Monday.

From turning up on Coronation Street as fresh-faced 12-year-old Craig Harris and being involved in one of the most dramatic storylines (his on-screen sister bludgeoned his screen father to death with a wrench in his garage), he wowed us with winning performances on Soapstar Superstar leaving us in no doubt that he was never going to be a one-trick pony.

And now he has a debut album under his belt and is firmly under the wing of one of the most successful artists in the world.

But looking at his pedigree you could almost believe that Richard was born to perform. While most of us remember him joining the cast of Corrie back in 2002 he was actually on set before he was born. His mother, actress Sue Jenkins, fell pregnant with Richard, her second child with fellow actor David Fleeshman, while playing Gloria Todd on the Street.

But if they had their way Richard may never have entered our consciousness.

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'They were keen to steer me away from acting and performing,' he said. 'It's the natural thing when both parents are in a job that you have an interest in it and I am fascinated by the industry but they knew how difficult it can be.

'And it was a huge ordeal auditioning for Craig which took seven months to get the part so we were all over the moon when I got the job.'

Richard left the soap in 2006 and, after his success on the celebrity singing competition, many assumed he would be just the next soapstar to turn popstar. But he showed a great deal of maturity and took his time.

'I was keen not to do the obvious jump as so many people expected and sign up to an album of covers. That has never been my idea as a musician and I think it would have been selling out. I turned down lots of offers from record companies and went back to Corrie for another six months.

'After meeting lots of people I decided to sign up with a record label willing to give me the support to write my own material.'

And this decision proved life-changing.

The release of his first album, Neon, sparked a call from Sir Elton John himself to Richard's manager asking if he would like to join him on his next tour, which happened last summer.

'It was amazing because he has been my idol for ever. It was just fantastic because I love his music and it was a phenomenal experience. He pulls in crowds not many people can and to be able to go out there and sing my material with my band to that many people was great.'

And Sir Elton was obviously impressed with his young prot�g� as he asked him back on the UK part of his Red Piano Tour and this year on his summer European tour.

But don't assume that is the last we will see of Richard in an acting role - he sees no reason why he can't do both. Richard managed to combine both talents in the recent BBC drama series All the Small Things in which he played musically-talented Kyle Caddick who is obsessed with the lead singer of American rock band Blink-182.

'People always have to ask whether I am doing music over acting but I don't see why I can't do both. There is no reason why I can't do some acting as well - you just have to weigh up the good and the bad and I have loved the opportunities that have come my way so far and if they keep coming that's great. It is a balance and one will have to take a back seat when the other is more prominent but it is lovely to do both because I am never sick of what I am doing. I would never complain about being overworked.'One day I am doing a drama series and then I am on tour with Elton John.'

And he is hoping to wow Norfolk fans when he joins Sir Elton on stage at Holkham Hall on Sunday, June 14 in one of the county's biggest ever outdoor concerts.

'The last tour was indoor arenas and this time it will be outside so there is more of a festival feel and we need to make sure it transcends the audience because it is a long way to the back and we want to make it possible to include everyone.

'I have been writing a lot more songs which I would love people to hear and I expect some fans will have seen every tour so we will try to change it up every time - but it will be great.'

He is sure to include in his set his latest single Can You Hear Me which was released last month and which he co-wrote with Elton John. It does have a distinctive Elton style to it and while they worked together Richard was blown away by the great man's musical talent.

'I went to him with the complete lyrics and he sat down and wrote the music. It was so quick - he has one look at the lyrics and the music just flows - he is a master. I was really fortunate to have that experience. He has a huge back catalogue and is the envy of most writers on the planet.'

Richard has never been to Holkham before but came to Norfolk three years ago to support the Louise Willgrass Foundation. His mother Sue Jenkins became involved in fund-raising in memory of Louise, who died in the Boxing Day tsunami in 2004, and she brought all the family to the summer ball in 2006 where Richard agreed to sing. His mother is still a big supporter of the charity.

For Richard it is no exaggeration to say that the world is his oyster but there is no big plan that he is trying to follow.

He is not short of offers and weighs each one up on its own merits, explaining that when he reads a script or gets an offer he knows 'what I want to do more than what I don't want' but if he keeps to the path he is treading now it seems he can't go far wrong.

t Tickets for the unreserved picnic-style event at Holkham Hall on Sunday June 14 are priced at �60 with a limited number of premium hospitality tickets available. Hotline numbers are 0871 231 0835, 0844 847 2493 or 0844 338 8000 or go online at www.seetickets.com, www.ticketmaster.co.uk or www.theticketfactory.com. For hospitality packages telephone 01753 626910.