Jonathan Ansell: Playing the prince is always fun

16 December 2014.......    Jonathan Ansell for This Life feature. Portrait shot in theatre. Jonathan was a member of G4 and is starring in the panto at The Carriageworks in Leeds this year. TJ100627b Picture by Tony Johnson
16 December 2014....... Jonathan Ansell for This Life feature. Portrait shot in theatre. Jonathan was a member of G4 and is starring in the panto at The Carriageworks in Leeds this year. TJ100627b Picture by Tony Johnson
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Jonathan Ansell was a member of the band G4, which will tour again next year. He is currently appearing in panto in Leeds. Jayne Dawson reports.

Jonathan Ansell, 32, gained a scholarship to the Guildhall School of Music and later rose to fame on X Factor. He lives in Leeds with his wife Debbie and children Siena, four, and Dexter, three months.

He is playing the Prince in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at the Carriageworks in Leeds until January 10.

“My first job was at McDonalds in Bognor Regis when I was 16. I enjoyed it. It is where I learned about work.

“The best piece of advice I ever received was never to regret what you have done. You should only regret the things you didn’t try.

“My guilty pleasure is ice cream. I have to watch my weight so I can’t have Ben and Jerry’s Cookie Dough in the house. We have actually started an exercise routine at the pantomime. It’s pretty brutal. Me and Muddles are the regulars and the musical director joins in. We haven’t persuaded Snow White to join us yet.

“My pet hate is people hogging the outside lane on the motorway. I spend a lot of the time on motorways. I enjoy driving, it is when I learn a lot of my songs.

“This is the fourth panto I have appeared in. I have done Cinderella twice, Sleeping Beauty and now Snow White. I always play the Prince so the parts are pretty similar. I enjoy it, it’s a lot of fun and it is good to be part of most children’s first theatrical experience. Their reaction is wonderful, and it is nice to have an audience made up of different generations.

“The person I would most like to meet is Freddie Mercury. I sing two Queen songs in the show. It can be quite daunting because he had such a voice but I trained operatically and I have a high register and he was quite operatic too, so that makes it easier.

“I was spotted at school. A teacher recommended I audition for the West Sussex Boys Choir. We would tour and between the ages of seven and eleven I went all over the world. We were 30 boys singing when it wasn’t particularly cool to do that.

“I had no expectation of a career in music but my local MP heard me singing in a show and encouraged me to audition for a music scholarship. I was offered places at three colleges but I chose Guildhall School of Music and I met the three other members of G4 there.

“We were probably the first of the classical boy bands and we had a very intense three years. We put the rest of our lives on hold and by the end we were driving each other mad, it wasn’t nice. But we have all been in touch again recently and we are touring next year, with the opening concert at Leeds City Varieties.

“I enjoyed X Factor. Simon Cowell was much nicer than I thought he would be. We were quite naive about it then, and didn’t realise how much it was about making television.

“My favourite weekend would involve some chilling out at home and then maybe taking the kids to Bridlington. I enjoyed a childhood like that and I want to pass that on to my kids. My wife runs the London School of Modelling but she is from Leeds. We moved back here because we thought it was a better place than London to bring up our kids.

“I would tell my teenage self to remain confident in who you are. I wasn’t a confident teenager, just the opposite. I had bad acne until it was treated and I was a wussy singer. I was very insular. I still am in a way, I like going off fishing on my own. It’s my way of relaxing.

“My philosophy of life is to just go for it, and pick yourself up again if it doesn’t work out.

“I couldn’t live without my phone. It is the first thing I look at in the morning.

“I met Debbie when I was drunk in a nightclub eight years ago. She came over and said: “Oh my God, I love you” and I thought: “Brilliant.”

“The closest I have come to death was probably when I went off by myself in a kayak to explore an island while on holiday in Malaysia. The tide came in, the kayak was dragged out and I was stranded on the island. Several hours later I had to be rescued.

“I had a good childhood, though I don’t think my job makes sense to my family now. I have an older brother and a younger sister who are both teachers.

“My first kiss was with Hannah in a park in Bognor Regis.

“The first record I ever bought was Tubthumping by Chumbawamba.

“I like Leeds because it has everything but it is not huge and sprawling, and it has a lot of independent eateries and shops. I think Trinity Leeds is a great addition too.”