Dean Smith: Meet the Leeds actor whose home is Waterloo Road

SCHOOL'S OUT: Dean Smith (left) with fellow Waterloo Road Reunited actors Zaraah Abrahams and Tachia Newell.
SCHOOL'S OUT: Dean Smith (left) with fellow Waterloo Road Reunited actors Zaraah Abrahams and Tachia Newell.
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HE was born and bred in Leeds, but actor Dean Smith made his home on BBC drama series Waterloo Road.

The 21-year-old, who lives in Holt Park, is better known on screen as Philip Ryan – the school’s resident oddball.

When the time came to bid farewell to the classroom, viewers were left wondering what had happened to the class of 2010.

Waterloo Reunited, launched earlier this month, is a spin-off series and features the likes of Philip, Janeece, Paul, Bolton, and Aleesha – following their lives now that school is out.

Dean talks to Claire Dunwell about his love of acting and all things Leeds.

There are many things I love about Leeds, especially the football team and the Kaiser Chiefs, who were my favourite band when I was growing up. West Yorkshire Playhouse has been very kind to me over the years, giving me lots of work. When I was 13 years old I played Banquo in Macbeth.

My philosophy in life is to play hard and work hard. If something comes up that you really want to do then do it because you will only regret it later if you don’t. After I left Ralph Thoresby High School in Leeds, I had to make the choice between going to university or pursuing a career in acting. It was 50-50 but when I had the opportunity to be signed by an agent, I went with that. Two weeks later, Waterloo Road came knocking and I haven’t looked back since. I like learning, but I love acting more.

The best piece of advice was given to me by Philip Martin Brown, who plays Grantly Budgen in Waterloo Road. He told me never to wear a Leeds United shirt in Manchester. We filmed in Rochdale and I wore it to work one day. Philip told me that if I valued my teeth, I should never do that again. Needless to say, I took his advice.

The last time I cried was when I was watching the Pride of Britain Awards on TV just before Christmas. I was watching it with my mum and it made me realise what suffering really is. Programmes like that give me a real wake-up call.

I had a fantastic childhood growing up in Leeds and I remember a lot of laughter. There’s an 18-month age gap between me and my younger sister Hannah and she’s my best friend. The summers were really long and we played in the garden for hours on end. It felt as though we were outside until midnight. We went on holiday to Spain every Easter with my gran and granddad which usually involved us giggling harmlessly at their quirks.

Tom Hanks is my all-time favourite actor so if I could meet anyone, it would have to be him. Some of the characters he has played have been superb and I would like to bottle some of his talent.

My first crush was on Rachel Stevens when I was 10-years-old. She was a member of the group S Club 7 and she was the first girl I really idolised. Me and a group of mates went to see them in concert and when she walked out onto the stage, I was absolutely dumbstruck.

The one thing about me that would surprise other people is that I once fronted a rock band in high school. We called ourselves Dead Famous and played gigs in Leeds and Halifax. In 2004, we came second in a battle of the bands competition. They were happy days.

I got my first job working at the Asda store in Holt Park. I was the ‘whoops’ sticker guy who went around checking the sell-by dates before reducing the prices. It didn’t feel like work, more like being back at school, because all my mates worked there too.

My most embarrassing moment happened while I was on a lads’ holiday in Ibiza a couple of years ago. I had a week off filming so a group of us went out there. After a few too many drinks, we decided to go skiny dipping but when we got back on the beach, we found our clothes had been taken. We had to walk a mile wearing nothing but a smile. We got a few wolf whistles from the bars and restaurants along the way and we had to sweet talk our way back into the hotel.

Another one would be when I was backstage at Party in the Park at Temple Newsam last summer and tripped over with a meatball sandwich in my hand. I was mortified when it landed in a girl’s lap – and when I realised it was the lap belonging to Heidi from the Sugababes, I wanted to run and hide.

The one thing I couldn’t live without is my iPhone 4 and I take it everywhere. If I have an audition in a strange place there’s a Sat Nav on there, and it also tells me the best places to eat. I also couldn’t live without my sister. But if I had to choose between the two, I’d have to choose my phone because Hannah has no sense of direction.

* Waterloo Reunited joins Waterloo Road on Wednesday nights and is available on the red button service as well as online at

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