Jamie Dorrington: Leeds actor likes the simple life

Jamie Dorrington.
Jamie Dorrington.
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Jamie Dorrington, 29, has gone from Leeds “bad lad” to successful actor appearing on tv and in films. Jayne Dawson meets the cookridge singleton.

Jamie Dorrington was written off at school, but he now runs a radio station, has appeared in television blockbuster Happy Valley and has roles in two films this year, Pirates of the South based on the days of pirate radio and Showground, about a travelling fair, which will be filmed in Leeds later this summer. He has two children from a previous relationship, Reece, seven, and Millie, six, and lives in Cookridge.

My first job was as a trainee chef at the Post House Hotel. I was naughty at school so I got sent to work in a hotel when I was 15. I did it for four years and got NVQ Level 3. I still enjoy cooking now.

The best piece of advice I have ever been given was from Mark Straker, who told me never to surround myself by people who made me feel lonely. Mark was the man who got me into films. I owe him a huge amount. He died during a meeting I was attending. He was only 41, and I miss him. He ran a charity called Project Postcode to help people from disadvantaged backgrounds to get into films. I wasn’t disadvantaged but I had problems.

My guilty pleasure is singing power ballads in the shower. Celine Dion is my favourite. I don’t like to admit it because I used to be a club DJ, and she definitely wasn’t on the playlist. My other confession is that I like the film The Bodyguard, with Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston.

I hate people who walk around with music playing on their phones and no headphones. You wouldn’t walk around with a stereo on your shoulder, so why do it.

I got into acting by accident. I started DJing and by the time I was 19 I was working all over the country and meeting people who wouldn’t have given me the time of day otherwise. I met journalist Donal McIntyre and he asked me if I had ever tried acting and I said no, not me, but he arranged an audition for me.

Michael Barrymore has been good to me as well. His own career is ruined but he was the star of a prime television show for years and I value the advice he gives me. Sarah Lancashire was lovely on Happy Valley, like the mother of the set. I played a lad on the street who gives her some backchat.

I bottled that first ever audition. I went but then I decided I wouldn’t go in and stood outside having a smoke instead. But someone came outside and said I was what they were looking for. They said “pretend you are arguing with your sister, and improvise.” I thought I could do that, because I argued with my sister every day. I got the part. It was a web series called Endz and then Sky made it into a TV series.

I would most like to meet actor James Gandolfini. He was an amazing actor, he used something called the Meisner Technique, done right it is the most amazing thing.

I like the simple life so my favourite weekend would be a sunny couple of days with my kids, my friends and my family. I have done all my going out. I burnt the candle at both ends when I was younger, I don’t much enjoy it now.

My advice to my younger self would be that you don’t have to do it all by the time you are 20, even though the partying is appealing. I partied too hard. Also, life can be full of opportunities after you leave school, so don’t write yourself off. When I was younger you would have had to lock me in a room to get me to read a book, now I read scripts hundreds of pages long and enjoy it.

I only follow people I know on twitter but I am on it most days. I use facebook to promote things, mostly.

When Mark cast me for Pirates of the South I hadn’t been a DJ since 2006, so I started an internet station called Chartmix.fm to get into the character. I bought the channel and built a studio here, it cost me about £10,000. We play 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and do three live shows a day. I do Thursdays and Sundays. We play garage, house music and funk and we get quite a few celebrities doing interviews with us.

My philosophy of life is that nothing is out of reach, so if you want to be a millionaire start working for it, don’t rely on the lottery.

The one thing I couldn’t live without is music, even though now I am an actor. I hate silence, I think that was my problem with school. When the teacher stopped talking it was too silent.

My most embarrassing moment was at the Brit awards in 2002. I had a pint in my hand and was walking down some stairs when I saw Avril Lavigne and at the exact same moment fell down the stairs. My instincts must have kicked in though because when I landed I still had a full pint, I hadn’t spilled a drop.

Here’s my joke: A man walks into a bar. Ouch

I think it would surprise people to know that I have a knee replacement. I came off the back of a motorbike in 2000. A car transporter pulled out in front of us and I got run over by a car. I was in hospital for months and came out in a wheelchair but I was lucky not to lose my leg. My wrist was damaged too. My left leg and left wrist, which isn’t good because I am left handed and left footed.

My childhood was alright. I was active and energetic, anything outdoors was for me. I am adopted, but I am now in touch with all my family and they come round here.

My first kiss was with Sarah down the side of her house in Horsforth when I was 13.

My first record was (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? by Oasis.

The thing I like about Leeds is that one way takes you to the city centre and the other takes you out into countryside, it’s all within reach. And I love the Sky Bar and all around Clarence Dock. I used to have a flat down there.